NBA

Gobert believes Timberwolves can beat anyone after reaching playoffs

By Sports Desk April 15, 2023

Rudy Gobert believes the Minnesota Timberwolves can go on to beat anyone in the NBA playoffs after seeing off the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Timberwolves won 120-95 in their play-in matchup on Friday to secure the number eight seed in the Western Conference.

Minnesota must now take on the top-seeded Denver Nuggets in the first round as they go into the postseason as heavy underdogs but Gobert, who had 21 points and 10 rebounds against the Thunder, is not daunted.

"To be honest, I don't consider ourselves as an eight-seed," Gobert said, per ESPN.

"We are in the standings, but I don't consider us an eight-seed. 

"Now, it's an amazing opportunity for us to keep getting better as a team. It's a huge challenge for us. It's an exciting opportunity.

"But we're not looking at the standings anymore. We're looking at who is in front of us. 

"We believe if we play the right way, there's not a team in this league that we cannot beat."

Nickeil Alexander-Walker was praised for his performance guarding cousin Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the NBA's fourth-highest scorer this season, after being handed a surprise start.

Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns, who top scored with 28 points and added 11 rebounds, was full of praise for his teammate, who helped to hold Gilgeous-Alexander to 5-of-19 from the field, a season-low shooting percentage (26.3).

"X-factor," Towns said about Alexander-Walker. "He's the reason we won. 

"He went out there and had a very, very tough job to guard Shai, who's been fantastic this whole year and one of the best scorers in the league. 

"And to go out there and do what he did is the reason we won. There's no other way to put it.

"We utilised our size. We did a great job of putting pressure on the paint and just doing what we do best."

Alexander-Walker added: "I was just so thankful for that opportunity to start and then have that assignment to guard him. 

"It's a little different than any other game. This is someone I grew up with my whole life. As far as people, he knows me better than anybody and he knows me better than anybody I could say."

The Timberwolves have now made the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in almost two decades.

They previously had a run of eight straight postseason appearances came to an end in 2004.

Game 1 against Denver takes place on Sunday.

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