By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com
In years past, the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers, at 41-40, would take on the first seeded team in a best of seven series. With the advent of the new play-in tournament, the eight-seeded Clippers took on the seventh-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves, who finished with a record of 46-35. Their better record during the season earned the Timberwolves the home court against the Clippers as they compete for a spot in these playoffs.
“We’ve just got to play good offense, make sure we get good floor balance and get back in transition, not allow these guys to make us turn the basketball over, which they are great,” Clippers Coach Ty Lu said pre-game about contending with the pace of the Timberwolves.
“If you want to play fast, it’s always easier to play fast off of defensive stops than it is out of the net all night long,” Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch said about their pace in his pre-game press conference.
To claim the seventh seed, the Clippers would need to beat the Timberwolves on their home court at the Target Center in front of a sellout crowd of 17,136. This ended being a game of runs, after the Timberwolves got off to a quick start, the Clippers came roaring back to take the lead into the second quarter.
Added motivation for the Timberwolves expressed itself with the acquisition of arguably the NBA’s biggest irritant. Former Clippers guard Patrick Beverley requested a trade when he received a “borderline disrespectful” offer. His passion meter would be overflowing for this game, and Paul George knew that, coming into the night.
“His energy and his persona, you know, rubbed off, they made an impact on that roster,” Paul George said of playing with Patrick Beverley. “I think when he’s in that mode, it ignites the team, ignites the arena. You need energy guys like that.”
“He just brings some toughness. He brings some energy. Just whatever it takes to win. He’s not worried about stats. He’s just worried about winning,” coach Lue said about Beverley post game. “He did a good job, especially in that second half, of just defending, getting into guys, irritating guys like he always does. He’s a big reason why this team is successful this year,” added coach Lue.
Just the presence of the gritty, overachieving Beverley added confidence to guys like D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards. As it was Russell and Edwards that spearheaded a Timberwolves 16-6 run, by scoring 15 points apiece in that second quarter. Edwards scored eight consecutive points for Timberwolves though Russell’s three pointer with 1:15 remaining in the half gave the Timberwolves the lead heading into the locker room.
After shooting twenty percent in the first half, Paul George erupted for 17 points in that third quarter, with three rebounds, and two assists. While George made three of five three pointers, the team shot 52% from deep in that quarter.
Oddly, the Clippers seem to frustrate the Timberwolves big man Karl Anthony Towns by putting a smaller man on him. Which caused him to get in early foul trouble and eventually foul out after only
scoring 11 points, five rebounds, and three assists in his 24 minutes of game time. However, the Timberwolves went on a 13-2 run when Towns went to the bench.
Though this was a tight game throughout. There were eight ties and nine lead changes in this game, the Timberwolves utilized a 21-5 run in the fourth quarter to close this game out. The Timberwolves solidify their seventh seed in these upcoming NBA Playoffs. Where the Clippers need to win on Friday against the ninth-seeded Pelicans or the tenth-seeded Spurs, to lock their playoff spot.
Share your thoughts on the Clippers and this Play-In tournament. If the Clippers win on Friday, it’s no harm, no foul. As they earned the eighth seed in the NBA playoffs. Do you think there should be a play-In Tournament, or do you think the NBA should reseed the season’s top 16 teams and let them fight it out for the league championship?
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