Rejoice, and be glad!
After injuring his right ankle in the first quarter of the Minnesota Timberwolves 139-131 overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls last Friday night, Anthony “Boot Man” Edwards is appears set to return to play tomorrow against Steph Curry and the defending champion Golden State Warriors. After appearing to be a game-time decision on Wednesday, Edwards was held out and got an additional four days of rest. You don’t need me to tell you how important it is for Minnesota to get their All-Star guard back, but it really cannot be overstated just how important this game is for the Wolves.
With two weeks left to go in the Regular Season, here's a look at where things stand in the West.— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) March 25, 2023
• Wolves have 4th-easiest schedule
• Jazz, Pels are in trouble
• Biggest game of the year on Sunday in SF
• FiveThirtyEight gives MIN 75% chance of making playoffs@canishoopus pic.twitter.com/xg0yoNgO8h
The Wolves currently sit 1.5 games behind the defending champs, so tomorrow is somewhat of a do-or-die game for the Wolves hopes of avoiding the Play-In tournament altogether. That may sounds hyperbolic, but it truly is not.
With a win, the Wolves are just half a game back of the sixth-seed, with the tiebreaker locked up after splitting the first two meetings with Golden State this season. Being neck-and-neck with control of the tiebreaker is a great spot to be in, even after everything Minnesota has dealt with this year.
On the flip-side, a loss sets the Wolves 2.5 games behind the Warriors with just seven games remaining. Golden State owning the tiebreaker makes that 2.5 game lead more like 3.0, which is generally an insurmountable lead with just a handful of games left. By the time we put our heads on the pillow tomorrow night, we’ll know whether the Wolves hopes of avoiding the Play-In have life or if the seventh-seed is the likely ceiling to close the regular season.
Aside from the standings implications, it’s just massively important for Minnesota to have Edwards on this road trip. After Golden State on Sunday, the Wolves head north for the second-leg of a back-to-back on Monday against the Sacramento Kings, and then down to the desert for Kevin Durant’s return to action with the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. Those teams can score like few in the league, and Minnesota will need Edwards’ firepower to keep pace.
Phoenix Suns' 13-time All-Star Kevin Durant (sprained ankle) is progressing toward a potential return to action on Wednesday vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, barring any setback, league sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 24, 2023
Lastly, but certainly not least, we just seem like we’re actually going to get to see what this full roster looks like (knock on wood, even if you’re just a little stitious please). It remains to be seen if these puzzle pieces will fit, but man, they’ve got a much better shot to make it work than they did earlier in the year. We finally get to see Mike Conley-Ant-Jaden McDaniels-KAT-Rudy Gobert in the starting lineup as well as, possibly, the jumbo Kyle Anderson-Ant-Jaden-KAT-Rudy lineup.
What’s most striking to me is just how much flexibility and optionality Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch will have at his disposal with the starting lineup plus SloMo and Taurean Prince. That top-seven in the rotation gives him a trustworthy point guard to direct the ship, four wings, and two All-NBA big men. The Wolves have the option to go big and play bully-ball or the option to “downsize” into switchy lineup that still features numerous wingspans near-or-above seven-feet in length.
I have zero clue how it’ll all work out, though I am more optimistic now than I was in November. Regardless, Anthony Edwards gets back on the court tomorrow, and that is reason enough to celebrate.