John Shipley: No matter what happens Thursday, Timberwolves’ Game 2 conference semifinal victory remains an all-timer

posted in: News | 0

Before we send the Timberwolves into a) the offseason or b) NBA history, it makes sense to take a minute and think about what this team has done so far this season.

Specifically, in their Western Conference semifinal against the defending champion Denver Nuggets, which included at least two, and possibly three of the best victories I’ve seen from a Minnesota sports team in the 23 years I’ve been at the Pioneer Press.

No NBA team has ever rallied from a three-game playoff series deficit, so theoretically this Timberwolves team still has a chance for more greatness. Our eyes are telling us something different, that the Wolves — and particularly Anthony Edwards — are tired, and the Dallas Mavericks seem a little more ready for the moment.

Teams generally have to build a playoff resume before winning it all. At least, the Timberwolves have accomplished this. But there is something bigger at work here, and that it’s coming from the Timberwolves is an unexpected treat for Minnesota sports fans who lean toward being disappointed by the big picture rather than enjoy and savor the occasionally great moment.

The Wolves had three genuinely great games in their seven-game takedown of the Nuggets, including a 45-point victory to force Game 7 and, perhaps most notably, their late rally to clinch the series in Denver after being left for dead. But it’s Game 2 that stands out, a defensive clinic that thoroughly broke the Nuggets in the first half of a 106-80 victory at Ball Arena that seemed to come out of nowhere.

The Timberwolves had a good season, no doubt, but that win was astonishing.

It was just getting started as Twins writers furiously typed up their game stories on a 3-1 victory over Seattle, and a few of the televisions were tuned to the late broadcast. Reporters took turns checking the screen and updating those in the press box, and every reply was a variant on “Are you serious?”

It was the most surprising performance by a Minnesota sports team since the Vikings lost the NFC Championship Game to the New York Giants 41-0 at the Meadowlands, only in a good way. That loss, BTW, happened the day before a certain scribe started work in St. Paul, Jan. 14, 2001. Twenty-three years later, it’s referenced, on average, by Minnesota sports fans 32.7 times a year.

This time, the Minnesota team was on the other end. It was stunning.

It reminded a former Chicago sports fan of a 1984 NFL divisional playoff in Washington, D.C. Chicago won, 23-19, and for a teenage Bears fan who still cared, it felt like winning the lottery on Christmas morning. It was a totally unexpected performance by a team that had made the playoffs only twice in 21 years, and hadn’t won a postseason game since the NFL championship in 1963.

This is what the Timberwolves gave their fans this season, and the fact that it came from the most generally inadequate of all Minnesota’s pro sports teams made it even better. Or at least more astounding. The Minneapolis Miracle doesn’t hold a candle to it because the Vikings were expected to win that game — should have won that game — and, let’s face it, were a little lucky. The Timberwolves took it to Denver and never stopped.

It was like a bolt out of the blue for someone without a horse in the race. For an emotionally disconnected witness, it was the best Minnesota pro sports victory he has seen.

If the Wolves rally to win this series and give Minnesota its first NBA Finals since the Lakers were still in Minneapolis, they will have made history, and maybe that Game 2 conference semifinal victory gets a little lost. But if fatigue, history and Luka Doncic finally catch up to the Timberwolves on Thursday, that win remains the kind of thing a team — if not a franchise — can hold onto for future reference.

Don’t let your disappointment stop you from enjoying what the team, this particular team, showed everyone on May 6.

Related Articles

Minnesota Timberwolves |

Fate of the Western Conference Finals may hinge on the health of Dereck Lively II

Minnesota Timberwolves |

‘I just couldn’t see much’: His vision finally restored, Kyle Anderson is again playing a big role in Timberwolves’ success

Minnesota Timberwolves |

Dane Mizutani: Suddenly, the impossible feels possible for the Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves |

Karl-Anthony Towns comes alive in second half to carry Timberwolves past Dallas in Game 4, keep season alive

Minnesota Timberwolves |

Timberwolves, Mavericks show trading for stars can work, if you give it some time

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.