It was a heartbreaking loss in an overall dispiriting series. The Rockets blew them out in three of the four games they lost. Despite the fact that Houston wasn’t playing their best until the last six quarters of the series, Minnesota only managed to win one game.
The Timberwolves were completely outmatched in this series, and that’s okay.
A season to appreciate
The Rockets are the first seed for a reason. They are the best basketball team in the league right now. This season, Houston is 46-3 when Clint Capela, James Harden and Chris Paul all play. One of those losses came at the hands of Minnesota, in a dazzling blowout in Target Center. The fact that the Wolves even managed to win one game against the Rockets is something to be celebrated.
Last year, Minnesota won just 31 games. That team was lottery bound from the start and it was evident from their play.
This season, the Wolves won 47 games and were the fourth seed for the majority of the season. If Jimmy Butler had not torn his meniscus, they likely would have ended with home-court advantage in the playoffs.
That’s something to appreciate: the playoffs. For the first time in 14 years, Minnesota made it to the postseason. They ended the longest active playoff drought in the NBA and the second longest in the league’s history. This was the step that the Wolves needed to make this year. They brought NBA playoff basketball back to Minnesota, and everything after that is icing on the cake.
A particularly sweet bit of icing was the Wolves’ victory at Target Center. In their first home playoff game since 2004, Minnesota blew out the Rockets in a spectacular fashion. For the Wolves fans present, the game was unforgettable. It was one of the best in franchise history, right up there with some of the great performances from the days of Kevin Garnett and Flip Saunders.
It was inspiring for fans who have grown bitter over the last decade and validation for a franchise that was known as a perennial lottery team.
Of course, there are things to be sad or worried about. Karl-Anthony Towns struggled in this series, Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague were ineffective for games at a time. The Wolves offense had a hard time scoring on the Rockets.
However, there’s a whole summer ahead to think about that. For now, let’s just appreciate the fact that this was Minnesota’s best season in a long time. It was by no means perfect, but it was a large step in the right direction.
Wednesday’s defeat is going to leave a bitter taste in Wolves fans mouths, but we can’t forget just how special this year was. Minnesota’s final game may have been a loss, but that doesn’t mean that the season as a whole wasn’t a victory.