The Minnesota Timberwolves is perhaps essentially the most woebegone franchise within the NBA over the past 20 years this aspect of the Sacramento Kings. The Wolves have perennially been league-wide bottom-feeders since Kevin Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics again in 2007, with the workforce lacking the playoffs in 16 of the final 17 years coming into this season. That doubtful historical past is a part of what made the Wolves’ resurgence so enjoyable this 12 months: by successful by 46 video games and incomes their spot within the NBA Playoffs with a dramatic play-in event victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota might legitimately declare this because the group’s most fulfilling season since their convention finals run on the peak of the KG period again in 2004.
The Wolves drew the No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies within the first spherical, one other younger workforce that far exceeded expectations this season. What felt like a tricky matchup for Minnesota on paper all of a sudden turned favorable when the Wolves ran away with Recreation 1 because the offense scored 130 factors. Memphis bounced again to take Recreation 2 and tie the sequence heading to Minnesota for Recreation 3.
The Wolves got here out on hearth in Recreation 3, constructing a 47-21 lead simply minutes into the second quarter. TNT had Wolves star Karl-Anthony Cities mic’d up for the sport, and caught him proudly saying “We in Minnesota now” as his workforce held an enormous lead.
The Grizzlies would shut the hole to single-digits by halftime, however one other large run within the third by the Wolves helped push the result in 79-54 with underneath three minutes left within the quarter.
From then on, the Grizzlies went on a torrid run that resulted in probably the most humiliating playoff collapses of all-time for Minnesota.
The Grizzlies went on a 42-12 run within the final 13 minutes to take house a 104-95 win. The Grizzlies now lead the sequence 2-1, and it’s honest to marvel how Minnesota can come again from this.
There’s loads of blame to go round. Begin with Wolves head coach Chris Finch, who didn’t take a timeout because the Grizzlies went on a 24-2 run within the fourth quarter. It was additionally straightforward to deal with Cities, who in some way solely tried 4 area targets all recreation and completed with eight factors on the evening as he battled foul hassle.
After the sport, Grizzlies star Ja Morant had a bit of enjoyable at Cities’ expense.
Oh pricey. Cities didn’t make issues any higher after the sport. He appeared like somebody who is aware of his efficiency on this loss goes to stay in individuals’s minds for a very long time.
Karl-Anthony Cities when requested what he can do as a frontrunner to choose up the group:
«Go house, drink some wine and transfer on to the following day. That’s actually easy. Simply decompress, decompress.»
— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) April 22, 2022
Morant’s tweet appeared to begin an NBA-wide roast on Cities. This time, it feels honest. Sure, Cities was the point of interest of Memphis’ defensive recreation plan, and you’ll credit score him to some extent for transferring the ball to teammates and never forcing dangerous pictures. On the similar time, a famous person large man — and that’s what Cities is — has to attain greater than eight factors in a vital playoff recreation.
Charles Barkley went in on Cities throughout TNT’s “Contained in the NBA” after the sport:
The web didn’t let Cities off the hook both. He was crushed for hours after the sport.
This sequence proper right here is why you don’t name KAT the best taking pictures large man ever over gamers who do it when the lights are vibrant
— D.O.C (@darwinchvz320) April 22, 2022
Karl Anthony-Cities is in his seventh 12 months. He’s 26. He’s not a man you possibly can go to to get a bucket when it issues. Time to maneuver on. https://t.co/bI1a2qhkbi
— NoTechBen (@NoTechBen) April 22, 2022
Karl Cities press convention after that loss, the one during which the Wolves blew a 26 level lead and he had 8 factors and 5 fouls, is flat out embarrassing. Simply straight up ducking any accountability.
— Adam (@SouvenirCity) April 22, 2022
The fact is that Cities is likely one of the 15 or so finest gamers within the NBA. He had an amazing season — 24.6 factors, 9.8 rebounds, and three.6 assists per recreation with 41 p.c taking pictures from three-point vary. For as spectacular as these numbers are, reputations are solid within the playoffs. Earlier than this season, Cities’ status — pretty or not — was as a star who couldn’t affect successful sufficient to make the Wolves’ a viable playoff menace within the West. Now it seems like he’ll be branded as a man who can’t get it executed within the playoffs.
Cities has struggled in opposition to the Grizzlies, to make sure. Whereas it seems like this recreation and the following roasting of his efficiency shall be inconceivable to come back again from, all Cities must do is bounce again in Recreation 4 and lead Minnesota to a win to silence critics. We’ve seen that the Wolves’ finest effort can out-play Memphis on this sequence. They simply weren’t capable of put the sport away on Thursday.
KAT higher be locked in the remainder of this sequence. If he’s not, Recreation 3 feels prefer it’s going to be probably the most defining performances of his profession, and never in a great way.