The Minnesota Timberwolves could be essentially the most woebegone franchise within the NBA during the last 20 years this facet 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 getting into this season. That doubtful historical past is a part of what made the Wolves’ resurgence so enjoyable this yr: by successful by 46 video games and incomes their spot within the NBA Playoffs with a dramatic play-in match 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 Sport 1 because the offense scored 130 factors. Memphis bounced again to take Sport 2 and tie the collection heading to Minnesota for Sport 3.
The Wolves got here out on fireplace in Sport 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 some of the humiliating playoff collapses of all-time for Minnesota.
The Grizzlies went on a 42-12 run within the final 13 minutes to take dwelling a 104-95 win. The Grizzlies now lead the collection 2-1, and it’s honest to surprise how Minnesota can come again from this.
There may be 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 simple to deal with Cities, who by some means solely tried 4 subject objectives all sport and completed with eight factors on the night time 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 seemed like somebody who is aware of his efficiency on this loss goes to stay in folks’s minds for a very long time.
Karl-Anthony Cities when requested what he can do as a pacesetter to select up the group:
“Go dwelling, drink some wine and transfer on to the subsequent day. That’s actually easy. Simply decompress, decompress.”
— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) April 22, 2022
Morant’s tweet appeared to start out an NBA-wide roast on Cities. This time, it feels honest. Sure, Cities was the focus of Memphis’ defensive sport plan, and you'll credit score him to some extent for shifting the ball to teammates and never forcing dangerous photographs. On the identical time, a famous person large man — and that’s what Cities is — has to attain greater than eight factors in a vital playoff sport.
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 collection proper right here is why you don’t name KAT the best capturing large man ever over gamers who do it when the lights are vivid
— D.O.C (@darwinchvz320) April 22, 2022
Karl Anthony-Cities is in his seventh yr. He’s 26. He’s not a man you may 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 by 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 truth is that Cities is without doubt one of the 15 or so greatest gamers within the NBA. He had an incredible season — 24.6 factors, 9.8 rebounds, and three.6 assists per sport with 41 p.c capturing from three-point vary. For as spectacular as these numbers are, reputations are cast within the playoffs. Earlier than this season, Cities’ popularity — pretty or not — was as a star who couldn’t affect successful sufficient to make the Wolves’ a viable playoff risk 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 certain. Whereas it seems like this sport and the next roasting of his efficiency can be unimaginable to return again from, all Cities must do is bounce again in Sport 4 and lead Minnesota to a win to silence critics. We’ve seen that the Wolves’ greatest effort can out-play Memphis on this collection. They simply weren’t in a position to put the sport away on Thursday.
KAT higher be locked in the remainder of this collection. If he’s not, Sport 3 feels prefer it’s going to be some of the defining performances of his profession, and never in a great way.