The regular season No. 8 seed Minnesota Timberwolves took the regular season No. 7 seed Los Angeles Lakers to overtime in the first-round of the 2023 NBA Play-In Tournament. Unfortunately for T-Wolves fans, the Lakers pulled away in overtime, relegating Minnesota to the second-round of the play-in. They now have a matchup with the regular season No. 10 seed Oklahoma City Thunder coming off of a win against the regular season No. 9 seed New Orleans Pelicans. The Thunder joined the Chicago Bulls as the second No. 10 seed to ever win in the NBA Play-In Tournament, and will look to potentially be the first to move on to the NBA Playoffs, barring the matchup between the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat. The Timberwolves are going to have to play a lot better than they did against the Lakers if they want to move on, and a couple of bold predictions could be the reason for them advancing.
Anthony Edwards had one of his worst performances of the season against the Lakers, so he will undoubtedly look to play better. The Timberwolves will also potentially have Rudy Gobert back from a one-game suspension stemming from an altercation with teammate Kyle Anderson, however a back injury might keep him sidelined.
In general, the Timberwolves main priorities will be slowing down Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, both of whom went for over 30 points against the Pelicans. The Thunder definitely have the momentum heading into Friday’s matchup, and it should be a highly contested game to see who advances to face the Denver Nuggets in the first-round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs. For the Timberwolves, here are two bold predictions that should excite Minnesota faithful for the last game of the 2023 NBA Play-In Tournament.
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Anthony Edwards bounces back with 50 for the Minnesota Timberwolves
Anthony Edwards played 43 minutes against the Los Angeles Lakers, essentially ensuring he got his cardio in for the day. He finished the night 3-17 from the field, including 0-9 from the three-point line, en route to 9 points for the game. He still chipped in 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals, but it was far from the output expected of the young star. The third-year pro had a breakout season, averaging a career-high 24.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists in 79 games. He also made his first career All-Star Game. Going into the elimination game against the Thunder, Edwards needs to perform like he showed he can in the regular season.
Luckily for Timberwolves fans, Anthony Edwards is going to bounce back and then some. Edwards is going to go for a career-high 50 points and lead the Timberwolves into the NBA Playoffs. His previous career-high fell on April 7, 2022, as he went for 49 points against the San Antonio Spurs. It will be the perfect time to have his best performance, even more tantalizing that he will be doing it in front of his home crowd.
Edwards is certainly disappointed with his performance against the Lakers. If he went on social media after the game, he probably went from disappointed to furious rather quickly. He was getting slandered by Timberwolves and NBA fans alike, as he was just off the mark all night long. The motivation from such a poor performance will fuel him come Friday night, and the Thunder are not going to know how to stop him. Anthony Edwards will go nuclear in an effort to save Minnesota’s season, dropping 50 points on the Thunder.
Rudy Gobert has 20 rebounds and 5 blocks vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder
Rudy Gobert was the subject of immense scrutiny at the close of the regular season for his antics against his own teammate in a game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Gobert punched Kyle Anderson during an argument on the bench, leading to him being sent home and ultimately suspended by the organization. He is available to come back against Oklahoma City, although a back injury might keep him sidelined. However, Gobert will fight through that injury and go for 20 rebounds and 5 blocks against the Thunder.
Notwithstanding the current controversy, Gobert has been criticized all season long for poor play. The former three-time defensive player of the year has seen his numbers dip in every category, with a significant drop in the rebound department. Timberwolves fans and media have been frustrated at his lack of production given the immense haul Minnesota shipped off to the Utah Jazz in return for Gobert. Although Gobert is no stranger to off-the-court issues, this will be one of the biggest moments of his career to prove his worth. Minnesota will be grateful that he will do just that.
Gobert will never be expected to be a primary scoring option, and with Edwards set to light up the scoreboard, Gobert is going to come back hungry to eat up the glass and protect the rim. He will be tenacious on both the defensive and offensive boards on his way to 20 rebounds, and his activity on defense will net him 5 blocks. Big numbers for Gobert, but he will display potential he has flashed in the past.
Overall, the Timberwolves need to put together a much more cohesive effort against the Thunder. Look for big performances from Anthony Edwards and Rudy Gobert in Friday’s 2023 NBA Play-In Tournament game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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