Timberwolves look to improve playoff position vs. Kings
The Minnesota Timberwolves can take a step toward a first-round playoff matchup with the Sacramento Kings when they visit the California capital seeking a fourth consecutive win Monday night.
Minnesota (38-37) moved into the No. 7 position in the Western Conference with a 99-96 road triumph over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.
A win on Monday would allow the Timberwolves to move into a tie with the idle Warriors for the sixth playoff spot, which is assured a postseason berth and a meeting with the No. 3 seed in the first round.
Sacramento (45-29) currently stands third in the West.
The Timberwolves' narrow win at Golden State was their second straight since the return of Karl-Anthony Towns from a calf injury that sidelined him for 51 games.
The former All-Star played the role of hero in both wins, putting Minnesota ahead of Atlanta for good with two late free throws on Wednesday night, then doing the same thing to the Warriors with a clutch 3-pointer.
Towns, who is on a minutes restriction, went 32 against Golden State on Sunday, making him questionable on the second night of a back-to-back. He played 26 minutes against the Hawks, then had three days off before Sunday's encore performance.
The Timberwolves also got Anthony Edwards back Sunday after he had missed three games in a row with a sprained ankle.
Minnesota coach Chris Finch acknowledged before Sunday's game that deciding who to play and how much has become a day-to-day call.
"It's great to have all these guys back finally," he assured. "We're still working through kind of restrictions on different guys, so that's a bit of a puzzle, too. So it doesn't give us complete freedom out there. But, yeah, it's really exciting to have everyone back ... or the potential to have everyone back."
Edwards played 35 minutes against the Warriors, contributing 13 points to the win.
He's come up big in three previous meetings with the Kings this season, going for 34 and 27 points in wins, 33 in a loss. He also chipped in with a 3-point play and a 16-footer late in a 138-134 win at Sacramento when the clubs last met on March 4.
Kevin Huerter ignited an impressive month with a team-high 29 points for the Kings in the home loss, making six of his nine 3-point shots.
The first-year King has gone for 25 or more points five times in March after having done so just four times previously this season. He had 29 and 27, respectively, in home wins over the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz in the last three days.
Kings coach Mike Brown was even more impressed with Huerter's nine and seven rebounds in the victories.
"His ability to rebound was extremely impactful in terms of us getting a win," Brown said after Huerter's season-best effort Friday against Phoenix. "We're not a huge team and we're not naturally gifted when it comes to (rebounding). To have a guy like Kevin step up was really, really big."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 27, 2023