The Timberwolves knocked off the Thunder in the playoffs and will face the Nuggets as the 8th seed in the West.
The Oklahoma City Thunder won a do-or-die game on the road, but they failed to accomplish the feat twice.
The Minnesota Timberwolves took the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and eliminated OKC with a 120-95 victory on Friday.
Minnesota got another chance to make the playoffs after losing in overtime to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday (LA is the seventh seed) – the Thunder ended the New Orleans Pelicans’ season on Wednesday.
It was a 10-point lead for the Timberwolves, and when they went up by 13 early in the third quarter, they temporarily took out Oklahoma City’s leading scorer, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
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Rudy Gobert’s elbow accidentally hit him in the right cheek while catching an offensive rebound, and Gilgeous-Alexander lay on the ground for several minutes. He went into the locker room with his coach, frozen in the face, and returned a few minutes later with a landmine in his right eye.
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The Thunder were able to cut a 16-point deficit to eight at one point in the third quarter, but Minnesota rallied from there and trimmed its lead after 17 minutes. This number increased to 29 points in the fourth quarter.
Six Wolves, including all five players, finished in double figures: Karl-Anthony Towns (28), Rudy Gobert (21), Anthony Edwards (19), Mike Conley (14), Nickel Alexander-Walker (12) and Kyle Anderson ( 11). Towns and Gobert also had 11 and 10 rebounds, respectively.
The matchup marked Gobert’s return from a team-imposed one-game suspension for his hit on Anderson during a timeout — Gobert missed the first game.
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In the final minutes, the people of Minnesota chanted, “We want Denver.” They got it.
It will be the Timberwolves, led by back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic (who could win it for the third time), and the top-seeded Denver Nuggets in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
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