NBA Playoffs: Timberwolves recover from 20-point deficit to stun the Nuggets in Game 7 and reach the conference finals

Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets were about to end their series without major issues on Sunday night.

They did lead by 20 points in the second half and pretty much shut down Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards, after all. And yet, somehow, despite a largely horrific offensive display in the first 24 minutes, the Timberwolves pulled off the biggest Game 7 halftime comeback in NBA history.

The Timberwolves came back strong to stun the defending champions and clinch a 98-90 victory in Game 7 of their semifinal series at Ball Arena on Sunday night. They outscored the Nuggets 60-37 in the second half while completing a wild 30-point swing.

The win officially sends the Timberwolves to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in two decades. The Timberwolves are now a perfect 2-0 in their seventh game in history as well.

“It’s a special moment,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said after the game. “It’s a great team with the best player on the planet, and this series was wild. This game was a microcosm of the series.

After a slow and very defensive start to the game — both teams combined to shoot just 6-of-24 shots from the field to open the night — the Nuggets finally got going before halftime. They ended up leading 18-3 at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half and completely controlled the game. They held the Timberwolves without a field goal for more than five full minutes during that period, then held them scoreless for the final two minutes of the half to take a 15-point lead into halftime.

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Jokic had 15 rebounds in a double-double by that point, while Edwards shot just 1-of-7 from the field.

But somehow, after being stagnant offensively for most of the game, the Timberwolves came alive in the third quarter. After falling behind by 20 points, they went on a 19-3 run and held the Nuggets without a field goal for more than six full minutes. Denver ended up giving up 13 of its last 16 shots to end the third quarter.

Despite Edwards’ brutal shooting spree early in the game, Edwards nailed a step-back 3-pointer over Aaron Gordon to cut the deficit to just one point at the end of the period. That capped off a 28-9 run.

The Timberwolves didn’t stop there. They maintained a one-step lead over the Nuggets into the fourth quarter. Rudy Gobert even sank a lackluster jumper early in the period.

Then Naz Red appeared to close out the night. He made a ridiculous shot over Jokic in the final minutes to put the Timberwolves up by seven before setting up Edwards for a quick 3-pointer just seconds later. And just like that, the 30-point turnaround was complete, and the Timberwolves took complete control of the game.

Although the Nuggets didn’t pull away, the Timberwolves held on in the final minute to officially take the win by eight points.

“The season is over, and that’s what’s tough,” said a frustrated Nuggets coach, Michael Malone. He said after the match. “Damn, being 20 years old. The season’s over, you don’t get it. The season’s over, it’s tough.”

Karl-Anthony Towns was the Timberwolves’ top scorer with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Edwards scored 16 points, all but four of which came in the second half, and eight rebounds and seven assists. He shot just 6 of 24 from the field and 2 of 10 from the 3-point line. Jaden McDaniels finished with 21 points. The Timberwolves shot just 10 of 34 from behind the arc as a team and less than 40% from the field as a unit.

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Jokic finished the game with 34 points, 19 rebounds, and seven assists. He shot just 2-of-10 from beyond the arc. Murray finished with 35 points on 4-of-11 shooting from behind the arc. The duo were the only Nuggets players in double figures on the night, and the Nuggets got just five points off their bench.

Now that they have beaten the Nuggets, the Timberwolves will now advance to the Western Conference Final where Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks await.

The Mavericks defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in the semifinals on Saturday night in Dallas. Dončić put up his third straight double-double while leading the Mavericks to a 4-2 victory, which officially eliminated the top seed in the Western Conference. The Mavericks have now reached their second conference finals in the past three seasons.

Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals is scheduled for Wednesday night in Minneapolis. This will be the Timberwolves’ second appearance ever in the Conference Finals. They fell in the 2004 series to the Los Angeles Lakers.

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