Hungry Like The Wolves: Timberwolves End NBA’s Longest Playoff Drought

The Return Of The Wolves A 13-year-old fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves has never seen an NBA playoff game. OK, just not one with the Timberwolves in it. Now,...

The Return Of The Wolves

A 13-year-old fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves has never seen an NBA playoff game.

OK, just not one with the Timberwolves in it.

Now, that fan’s life will change. Probably for about a week.

The T’wolves defeated the visiting Denver Nuggets 112-106 in overtime in a “go for broke” game at home on Wednesday night. With a victory, the T’wolves ended the NBA’s longest string of playoff absences at 14 years and grabbed the last unclaimed playoff slot. Denver’s misery continues – despite a strong finish, the Nuggets have now missed the playoffs for six straight years.

Jeff Teague’s running one-hander in the lane and a couple of free throws by Andrew Wiggins nailed this one down for Minnesota. Jimmy Butler, appearing in his third game since having knee surgery, played 42 minutes and scored 29 points.

“We brought the city back to where it needs to be. We believed in ourselves. We got some guys who want to win,” Butler said.

So, nice work getting into the playoffs. We’re all very happy for you. And now … the rest of the story.

First, the T’wolves are the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and will play the Houston Rockets, the No. 1 seed and an extremely serious contender for the NBA championship.

Second, the T’wolves have a very weird playoff history. They’re out as soon as they’re in. After they entered the NBA as an expansion team, they spent seven seasons trying to earn that first playoff berth. Then they reached the playoffs eight times in a row, though they were beaten in the first round in the first seven.

Then came the drought, in which coaches who had succeeded there previously (Flip Saunders), or had won elsewhere (Rick Adelman) or would succeed in a later gig (Dwane Casey) failed terribly.

Welcome back, Timberwolves. Will we get to know you this time? Not if you don’t stay awhile.

 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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