Game 7 sees the Wolves rally to eliminate reigning champions, the Nuggets

The Minnesota Timberwolves’ incredible 20-point comeback against the Denver Nuggets in Sunday’s Game 7, which secured their spot in the Western Conference finals, traces back to a significant moment that took place over a year ago. It all began at a local bar just a few miles away from Ball Arena.

After the Timberwolves’ loss to the Nuggets in the playoffs in April 2023, Anthony Edwards and a few teammates decided to unwind at a cocktail lounge called Forget Me Not. Located in the Cherry Creek neighborhood, they had plenty of time before their chartered flight back home the following morning. Edwards, despite his potential game-tying 3 falling short as time expired in Game 5, sought solace in the company of his teammates at the cozy establishment.

In a serendipitous twist of fate, it just so happened that Denver point guard, Jamal Murray, found himself in the same bar as the Timberwolves. Fresh off an impressive 35-point performance in the closeout game, Murray walked into the establishment, amidst the countless gin joints and towns across the world.

Edwards, who is already gaining recognition as a rising star but has yet to experience the kind of postseason success that has elevated him to superstar status this year, had an important message for Murray.

As he made his way towards the team bus after his team’s 98-90 victory on Sunday, Edwards shared with ESPN his thoughts on the conversation. “He was talking nonsense,” Edwards said. “He kept saying to Mike [Conley], ‘I’m tired of you, you can’t defend me,’ and things like that.”

“I assured him, ‘We will return. You can count on seeing us again once we have all our supplies.'”

Edwards’ declaration became a reality on Sunday.

The defending champion Nuggets were dethroned by the Timberwolves in a remarkable Game 7 comeback. Despite trailing by 20 points in the third quarter, the Timberwolves stormed back to secure victory, making it the largest comeback in a Game 7 in the past 25 postseasons.

“It’s a true reflection of our identity,” Edwards exclaimed in the aftermath of their triumphant win. “When we fully commit to our defensive game, we become an incredibly formidable team to reckon with.”

The Nuggets joined the unfortunate list of defending champions who were unable to make it to the conference finals for the fifth consecutive time. They also made history as the first team ever to have a halftime lead of 15 points or more in a Game 7, only to end up losing.

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Just like Edwards declared, the victory over Denver was a collective effort from the entire team. In contrast, the Nuggets had only two players scoring in double digits. This balanced scoring was crucial, especially considering Edwards’ challenging night, where he struggled with a 6-for-24 shooting performance.

Karl-Anthony Towns, the talented four-time All-Star of the Wolves, showcased an extraordinary performance, marking it as the pinnacle of his nine-year career.

Karl-Anthony Towns, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ top pick in 2015 and the team’s longest-serving member, showcased his skills in their recent game. He contributed 23 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals, and a blocked shot. Moreover, he displayed an impressive one-on-one defensive performance against Denver Nuggets’ three-time MVP, Nikola Jokic. Towns’ efforts were commendable and showcased his ability to hold his ground against a formidable opponent.

Minnesota coach Chris Finch expressed his admiration for Karl-Anthony Towns, highlighting the contentment and joy evident in his current demeanor. Finch emphasized the importance of Towns’ trust in the team and his belief that he would never be pushed to the sidelines. Finch acknowledged that young players often possess the mindset that they can single-handedly carry a team, but emphasized the reality that in the NBA, no one can achieve success alone.

“I am absolutely thrilled and filled with pride for him. In my opinion, he has had to endure a great deal of unjust criticism in regards to his performance in the postseason on certain occasions.”

Nikola Jokic had an impressive performance, scoring 34 points and grabbing 19 rebounds. However, he struggled with his shooting, going 13-for-28 from the field and 2-for-10 on 3-point attempts. On the other hand, Jamal Murray contributed 35 points, shooting 13-for-27. He also recorded 3 assists but had 4 turnovers.

Towns showcased his scoring prowess once again in the postseason, delivering his fifth consecutive 20-point performance on the road.

“It was a challenging game for me, to be honest. I couldn’t find my groove and rhythm tonight,” expressed Edwards. “However, I had to rely on my teammates and trust them to step up. I made a conscious effort to make the right decisions throughout the remainder of the game. Fortunately, I was able to execute, and my teammates came through by knocking down crucial shots. I am incredibly grateful to them for their contributions.”

The Timberwolves took control of the game from the Nuggets with a 32-9 run that lasted from the 10:50 mark of the third quarter to 11:14 of the fourth. Despite starting off with a 1-for-9 shooting performance, Edwards found his rhythm in the second half and scored nine points in the third. He even hit a step-back 3-pointer right before the end of the quarter. Meanwhile, Rudy Gobert, Minnesota’s four-time Defensive Player of the Year, surprised everyone with his offensive contributions in the fourth quarter. After struggling with his shooting earlier in the game, Gobert scored eight of his 13 points in the final frame, including an impressive turnaround jump shot.

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“I knew we had them when Rudy hit that turnaround,” Edwards exclaimed, reflecting on the moment when he felt the momentum shift in Minnesota’s favor. “I have to give a big shoutout to Big Ru for that incredible shot.”

In the second half, Gobert played a crucial role in the Timberwolves’ defensive effort against the Nuggets. He helped limit the Nuggets to only 37 points on 35.9% shooting, with just 19% accuracy from beyond the arc. Additionally, Gobert and his team dominated the rebounding battle, outrebounding the Nuggets by a significant margin of 29-15.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Gobert exclaimed. “Defeating a team of their caliber, a truly incredible team and reigning champions, with the best player in the world, is truly satisfying.”

In the fourth quarter, Minnesota took a commanding lead of 10 points when Edwards nailed a corner 3-pointer with 3:05 left on the clock. The Nuggets had to call a timeout as Edwards celebrated with excitement, even hugging a courtside fan. The arena was filled with loud cheers from Minnesota fans, who chanted “Let’s Go Wolves!” to emphasize the thrilling moment.

“That was amazing,” exclaimed Naz Reid, as he continued to impress in his role as the Sixth Man of the Year with 11 points coming off the bench. “We even had our own dedicated section, and they were cheering against the entire stadium.”

In Game 7, the Timberwolves saw impressive performances from their 17-year veteran, Mike Conley, who contributed 10 points and 8 rebounds. Notably, Conley broke his previous 0-4 record in Game 7s. Jaden McDaniels, whom Edwards hailed as the team’s MVP of the playoffs, showcased his skills with 23 points on 7-for-10 shooting. McDaniels also recorded 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block.

The 20th encounter between the two teams in both the regular season and playoffs since the beginning of the 2022-23 season proved to be an unforgettable spectacle, serving as the pinnacle of the series. Out of the first six games in the conference semifinals, only two were determined by a margin of less than 10 points, with three games witnessing a colossal difference of 25 points or more.

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Denver coach Michael Malone expressed his disappointment after a tough series against their opponents. He acknowledged that the opposing team pushed them to their limits and ultimately won Game 7 on their home court. Malone found it challenging to accept the loss, but he remained optimistic, stating that his team would bounce back stronger in the future.

The Minnesota team has shown outstanding performance in Game 7, with a flawless record of 2-0. They are the only franchise in NBA history to have remained undefeated in Game 7.

And Towns highlighted the significance of Sunday, which also marked the birthday of Wolves icon Kevin Garnett. This adds an extra layer of appropriateness to the celebration in Minneapolis, as it feels like a throwback to the glory days of 2004. It has been twenty years since Garnett and his teammates, despite their efforts, fell short against the Los Angeles Lakers in a six-game series. Now, the Wolves have made a triumphant return to the conference finals after a long hiatus.

“I want these guys to truly grasp the magnitude of their achievement,” emphasized Conley, who is 36 years old. “Reaching the Western Conference finals is a remarkable opportunity. It shouldn’t be taken lightly. While it’s important to celebrate this moment, it’s crucial to stay focused and prepare for the next challenge. Remember, there’s another team eagerly waiting for you. Everyone is standing between you and your goals, so it’s essential to be fully prepared and ready to give it your all.”

The Minnesota Timberwolves are set to take on the Dallas Mavericks in a highly anticipated battle for the Western Conference title and a spot in the NBA Finals. The first game of the series will be held in Minnesota on Wednesday, marking the beginning of what promises to be an exciting showdown between two talented teams.

According to ESPN BET odds, the Timberwolves are listed as the favorites with opening odds of -150 to win the series against the Mavericks. On the other hand, the Mavericks have odds of +130.

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