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The Minnesota Timberwolves have a bleak postseason outlook even if they are able to overcome Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night in Downtown Minneapolis.
Everything unraveled in a span of 30 minutes, when All-Defense First Team candidate Jaden McDaniels picked up his second foul late in the first quarter, ventured down a tunnel, and tried his luck giving a curtain a right hook without knowing there was a concrete wall behind it. McDaniels broke the third and fourth metacarpals in his shooting hand, is likely to miss the rest of the season as a result.
Shortly thereafter, Rudy Gobert celebrated Fan Appreciation Day by trying to fight Kyle Anderson, leading to a scuffle that boiled over into the halftime locker room 15 minutes later. Gobert was sent home and suspended for one game as a result. It only took a matter of hours after the game for quotes to start leaking out, before agents very clearly got in touch with national media insiders to try and put their version of the events out there, which is never a good thing for teams and players hoping to keep things in house.
But fans were nearly unanimous in their vote on this week’s poll: McDaniels breaking his hand and effectively putting a cap on the team’s playoff ceiling was the most frustrating aspect of the season finale.
I can’t blame them, either. I actually think the Gobert/Anderson scuffle was a good thing for the team and brought everyone closer together to finish strong against the Pelicans and give the Los Angeles Lakers all they could handle on Tuesday night in L.A.
While this season has been a rollercoaster of epic proportions, the one thing fans had to look forward to was the potential to make the playoffs at near full strength (pour one out for Naz Reid’s left wrist), and McDaniels decision to physically take his anger out certainly put a damper on that.
The wild final week of the season was just another chapter in a season-long book of how this team can’t get out of its own way, and perhaps could be the last one written in the Gobert era depending on the outcome of the final Play-In Game.