The Minnesota Timberwolves are headed back to the NBA postseason for the first time since 2003-04, but it took them until overtime of their 82nd game to do it.
On Wednesday night, the Wolves hosted the Denver Nuggets with both teams at 46-35 and the winner heading to the playoffs, and the two sides were deadlocked at 101 after four quarters. And they almost didn’t make it to overtime, as Denver would have had a late chance to win if not for a Taj Gibson steal:
Season on the line clutchhhhh ass play by Taj Gibson. We headed to OT. pic.twitter.com/nwEH5iuPe9
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) April 12, 2018
But in overtime, Minnesota pulled away, with Jimmy Butler (who only returned to the lineup last Friday after missing six weeks following knee surgery) dropping in seven of his game-high 31 points in the extra frame to help the Wolves to a 112-106 win that booked their playoff berth. And that led to quite the celebration:
— NBA (@NBA) April 12, 2018
It also prompted a whole bunch of tweets about how things have changed since their last playoff appearance:
The @Timberwolves end the NBA's longest active playoff drought of 13 seasons. Their last playoff appearance came in 2004, when they made it to the Western Conference Finals with a lineup that featured Kevin Garnett, Latrell Sprewell, and Sam Cassell pic.twitter.com/AM1surFp8z
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 12, 2018
The last time the Timberwolves made the playoffs:
—Twitter didn't exist
—Facebook was just a few months old
—Gas cost $1.75/gallon
—George W. Bush was in his first term as president
—"Yeah" by Usher was No. 1 on Billboard chart
—KAT was 8 years old
— Tyler Mason (@tylermason21) April 12, 2018
Timberwolves hoping for a win tonight, would give them first playoff game since May 2004. Perspective? Bachelor Jesse Palmer had given out his final rose just days before. pic.twitter.com/Jn1CbHn3aN
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) April 12, 2018
Other things of note in 2004:
- The Lord Of The Rings: Return of the King won all 11 Academy Awards it was up for.
- Frasier finished airing its final season and won three Emmys. (Newcomer Arrested Development won Outstanding Comedy Series.)
- The Red Sox did something, I guess? Bill Simmons might be able to tell us more.
- The Kobe/Shaq Lakers beat the Wolves in the Western Conference Finals, but then lost to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals. Shaq then demanded a trade, eventually winding up in Miami.
- Top-10 selling album (as per Billboard) included Usher’s Confessions, OutKast’s Speakerboxx/The Love Below (#2), Evanescence’s Fallen (#6) and Toby Keith’s Shock’n Y’all (#7).
- The Super Bowl caused the FCC controversy heard around the world thanks to Justin Timberlake causing Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction.” (In the game, the Patriots beat the Panthers 32-29. So Justin Timberlake, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick were all involved in the Super Bowl, so I guess some things haven’t changed.)
So, yeah, it’s been a heck of a long time. And while the Wolves may be in tough against the top-seeded Houston Rockets, at least they’re in. That’s a pretty great moment for that franchise, and they got there in thrilling fashion.