Timberwolves Stage Historic Comeback to Reach Western Conference Finals for First Time since 2004

The Minnesota Timberwolves overcame a 20-point deficit to defeat the defending champion Denver Nuggets 98-90 in Game 7 on the Road
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Denver --Minnesota is going to celebrate like it did in 2004. After a two-decade wait, the Minnesota Timberwolves have finally made it back to the conference finals, becoming the first team in NBA history to come back down 20 points in Game 7. This historic comeback not only secured their spot in the Western Conference Finals but also demonstrated the team's fight and heart, showing that they never quit, no matter how big the lead is. 

With Minnesota’s 22-year-old breakout star, Anthony Edwards, struggling through a 6-for-24 shooting night, Wolves four-time All-Star Karl Anthony Towns turned the clock back and stepped up with one of his most impressive performances of his nine-year career. Towns, the franchise's No.1 pick in 2015 and the longest-tenured team member, scored 23 points with 12 rebounds, two steals, and one blocked shot. More importantly, he was dominant on the other side of the floor, defending against Denver’s three-time MVP, Nikola Jokic, as everyone else struggled to handle him. Edwards, despite his early struggles, found his rhythm late, scoring nine points in the third--including a step-back 3 to beat the buzzer at the end of the third quarter to get the Wolves within one point. 

Jokic finished with 34 points and 19 rebounds but struggled to shoot the ball efficiently, going 13-for-28 from the field and 2-for-10 on 3-pointers. The second star for the Nuggets, Jamal Murray, also struggled in the second half after he erupted for 24 points in the first half, which was the biggest reason why he had the defending champions up 15 at halftime. It was the third quarter when Denver went cold and looked like they ran out of gas because of how hard they played in the first half, and every basket was a tough shot. 

Edwards is a superstar on the rise who is already on the verge of having a breakout postseason that will turn him into the new face of the league. He had some words for Murray after the game. 

“He was talking s ---, “ Edwards told ESPN as he walked down the ramp toward the team bus after his 98-90 victory on Sunday.” 

Minnesota was the No. 1 defense for the entire year, and they showed in these playoffs when they were all over the defending champs like the Piranhas. Their defensive strategy was to swarm either Jokic or Murray on almost every possession, forcing the ball out of their hands. This tactic held them to 90 points or less three times in this series, and all three were on Denver’s home floor. 

From the 10:50 mark in the third quarter, when Minnesota was trailing 38-58, the Wolves went on a 32-9 run all the way to the 11:14 mark in the fourth quarter to take a 70-67 lead. From then on, they had regained confidence to win this game. While Edwards started 1-for-9 from the field, he found a rhythm late, scoring nine points in the third --including a step-back 3 to beat the buzzer at the end of the third quarter to get the Wolves within one point. 

Rudy Gobert, the four-time Defensive Player of the Year, added an unexpected offensive punch because he was struggling to defend Jokic, so they changed the matchup and put Towns on Jokic. But, Gobert scored 8 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter --including a miraculous and unexpected turnaround fadeaway jump shot to beat the shot clock, which was a huge basket. 

Minnesota went ahead by as much as 10 in the fourth when they made a huge steal, stripping Murray and passing it to Edwards for the corner 3 with 3:05 remaining to extend the lead to 92-82. The shot caused the Nuggets to call a timeout, and Edwards screamed at the Nuggets crowd, jumping for joy and hugging a courtside fan. 

After the game, Head Coach Chris Finch, who was sidelined for the entire series due to tearing his ACL in the first round against the Phoenix Suns, gave props to Towns. 

“I couldn’t be happier and prouder of him,” Finch said to ESPN. “I think he’s faced a lot of unfair criticism regarding the postseason sometimes.” 

The Wolves will face the Dallas Mavericks for the right to represent the West in the NBA Finals. Minnesota will host Game 1 on Wednesday and looks to reach its first NBA Finals in its franchise history.

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