Timberwolves End 14-Year Absence from Playoffs, NBA Releases 1st-Round Schedule

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau in the first quarter

Forgive the Wolves - the West's most improved team this season by 15 victories, so far - if they feel conspired against.

Both Harden and Paul have struggled in the post-season, but things are different this year in Houston. The Timberwolves come in with a 29-11 home record and the Nuggets sit at 15-25 on the road.

The Timberwolves led 62-54 at half-time as Towns and Butler each poured in 16 points in the first half. He led the team in points, rebounds and assists per game and can score on the blocks, stretch his shot to three-point range and serve as a risky facilitator from the high elbow when opposing defenses send additional attention his way. It's only right that it comes down to one game and it means the most to us and to this franchise.

Karl-Anthony Towns is the top fantasy basketball player for the Timberwolves with a season average of 44.16 fantasy points per game. If that scenario occurs, and Minnesota beats Denver, then San Antonio defeating New Orleans would give us a Jazz-Warriors series. James finished with 10 points and five rebounds in 10:33. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves are 1-5 ATS in their last six games following a win and 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games against a team with a winning record.

The Wizards (43-39) came into the game as the final seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and the loss prevented Washington from moving up. They withstood a couple of quick buckets from Butler and took a 106-105 lead with 2:28 remaining as Millsap knocked down jump shot.

The Nuggets have their own long-frustrated fan base, with their last appearance in the playoffs coming in 2013. Jeff Teague put the T-Wolves in front for good with a 14-footer with 1:19 left to play. Jimmy Butler was fouled on the ensuing possession, but remarkably, he missed both free throws.

Jokic scored 17 points in the third on 7-7 from the field and 3-3 from deep.

But costly miscues - 15 turnovers leading to 23 Wolves points, a number of clanged wide-open looks from outside, misses in the paint by Jokic and Will Barton (24 points, eight rebounds, five assists) in the final minute of OT - wound up proving to be the difference, sending Denver home before the start of the first round, and moving Minnesota on its first postseason series in 14 years. Denver won their sixth straight as they held off Portland 88-82 at home Monday night.

Fultz had his first career triple-double with 13 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. But he didn't get much out of anyone else.

James entered the finale averaging 27.7 points, 9.2 assists and 8.7 rebounds.

The Minnesota Timberwolves picked up another important win to keep pace in this relentless Western Conference race.

He said: "It's a lot of emotions". "I'll probably fall asleep and in the middle of the night and wake up and start crying". But that'll be of little solace tonight. The Timberwolves have not made the playoffs since 2004.

Thibodeau was an assistant coach in NY during the 1998-99 lockout when the Knicks beat Boston and Miami to reach the playoffs as an eighth seed on their way to the NBA Finals that season.

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