There were just over five minutes left in the third quarter during the New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves game on November 20th. Mitchell Robinson attacked into the paint and was met by Rudy Gobert, who blocked the shot attempt. The Target Center crowd cheered.
Robinson prevented the ball from going out of bounds, kicking it out to Jalen Brunson on the perimeter. From there, the ball was swung to the right corner for a Quentin Grimes three-point attempt. The shot was long. Gobert never left the paint and corralled the ball by boxing out, which led to a personal foul on Robinson.
Every Timberwolves fan in the building was on their feet as Naz Reid came to give Gobert a congratulatory chest bump. All Rudy did was grab a defensive rebound. Why should that warrant such praise from the sold-out Target Center crowd?
“It was cool. It’s always good to get a little love,” Gobert told reporters postgame about fan support. “I try to be the best Rudy I can be, and I’m going to keep doing so. But it’s cool to see that the fans appreciate the effort that I bring. I try to give 200 percent every night. I missed a couple of free throws tonight again, but regardless of what happens, I’m always going to give 200 percent. So I appreciate that.”
The Timberwolves beat the Knicks that night 117-100, improving to a perfect 6-0 record at home and a Western Conference-best 10-3 overall.
That mid-November game was the latest installment in an incredible start to the season for the Wolves. They have pulled the curtains back by displaying what they can do when fully healthy. As a response, fans have risen to their team’s historic start by packing the stands and making Target Center a tough place to play in.
Two nights later, the Wolves welcomed in the Philidelphia 76ers. There was again a notable buzz in the arena. By the 7:10 local time tip-off, there wasn’t an empty seat in the stands. According to ESPN, Target Center was sold out for the eighth straight regular season game as 18,024 fans piled in to see the Wolves take on a 76ers team without Joel Embiid, their big ticket.
It’s worth noting that Target Center’s official capacity comes at around 20,000. However, since the 2021-22 season, the Timberwolves have had tarps along the baselines in the upper level, which makes approximately 2,000 seats unavailable.
Philadelphia was coming off an overtime loss at home against the Boston Celtics the night before they played in Minnesota. Philly was also without their best player, so the Wolves steamrolled the tired and sluggish Sixers. All things considered, it was a pretty dull night at Target Center, aside from some occasional Wolves highlights. However, the fans stayed until the final minutes of the fourth quarter to witness their team advance to 7-0 at home. Maybe the fans stuck around because of the free Chick-fil-A sandwich promotion that the Timberwolves have put on this season. Or perhaps it was because the fans were captivated by what they were witnessing.
The Wolves are beating good teams who are at full strength: the Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics, and New York Knicks. They are also taking care of the opponents whom Vegas heavily favors them to beat: the Utah Jazz, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies, and a tired 76ers squad.
Something is different about this year’s Timberwolves squad. While it would have been nice for them to go 41-0 on their home court this season, all good things must come to an end. The Wolves finally dropped their first home game on the year 15 games in.
The Sacramento Kings ended Minnesota’s history start to the season. They handed the Wolves a 13-point loss on Friday night. The Mike Brown-led Kings squad the game by the horns early, connecting on 8 of their first 12 attempted three-pointers.
The Wolves made things interesting early in the third quarter when they pulled within two points. However, the Kings were in control on both ends the entire night.
There were just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter, and Minnesota was down 11 points. Most Wolves fans remained in their seats despite the eventual loss creeping closer. It wasn’t until Karl-Anthony Towns threw an errant pass into the courtside seats that fans gathered their things and headed for the exits.
After the game, Gobert took to Instagram and described the loss as a “blessing in disguise.” Losing is always painful for fans. However, as fans piled out of Friday’s game, there wasn’t the usual level of disappointment that succeeds a home loss. Despite the unfortunate outcome, there was an optimistic feeling. The Timberwolves were still the best team in the Western Conference.
The Wolves have completely flipped the script from years past. The team is consistently winning. As a result, they have an unwavering level of support from their fanbase. Sixty-six games have yet to be played in the regular season, but something feels different for this year’s Timberwolves team. There is this belief heading into every game that will win, which hasn’t been associated with the franchise in over 20 years.
“It feels good to come in here expecting to win,” said Edwards after the win over the Sixers. “I’ve been here, this is my fourth year, all three years I never came in and was, like, ‘Oh, we fixin’ to win tonight.”