MINNEAPOLIS — Anthony Edwards and Patrick Beverley stood on the Target Center scorer’s table, screaming and celebrating in an ode to an iconic moment in Minnesota Timberwolves franchise history when Kevin Garnett stood on the table and celebrated in the 2004 playoffs.
Not long after jumping off the table, Beverley sat on the Timberwolves bench and began sobbing in an outpouring of emotion. This was deeply personal for Beverly. Not only did the veteran point guard feel the ecstasy of beating his former team, he rejoiced in helping Minnesota clinch the seventh spot in the Western Conference playoffs with a 109-104 come-from-behind play-in win over the LA Clippers on Tuesday night.
Minnesota will play the second-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 on Saturday. It is the first playoff appearance for the Timberwolves since 2018.
« Man, I wanted this one so bad, » said Beverley, who hugged his mother, Lisa, on the court. « This is just the icing on the cake, the cherry on top. Play-in, to be able to beat them … another goal scratched off. I told you we were going to the playoffs. Most of you all, y’ all looked at me like I was crazy when I first said that.
And he wasted no time in telling his former team, which dealt him away in August, how he felt. The Clippers had sent Beverley to Memphis, with the Grizzlies in turn trading him to Minnesota, which gave him the contract extension he sought in February.
After forcing a late turnover, Beverley celebrated in front of the Clippers bench, letting out a primal scream before pulling and pointing to his Minnesota jersey.
« Take they ass home, » Beverley said of what he told his old teammates at the end. « Long flight to LA Take they ass home. It’s deeper than that for me. I gave my blood and sweat and tears to that organization. You guys know the story.
« Blood, sweat and tears, to just be written off like that, ‘He’s injury prone, he’s old.’ This, this, that, that. To be able to come here and play them in a play-in and beat they ass, no other feeling, man. No other feeling. »
Beverley fulfills a vow he made when he was introduced to the Minnesota media in September that he would lead the Wolves to the playoffs. On Tuesday night, he helped the franchise secure only its second trip to the postseason since Garnett celebrated by standing on the same table after leading the Wolves to the Western Conference finals in 2004.
And Beverley did so against his former team. The point guard — who had seven points and 11 rebounds — spent four seasons with the Clippers and helped the team transition from the Chris Paul-Blake Griffin-DeAndre Jordan era to its current squad with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. He helped establish the Clippers’ current identity of working hard and their next-man-up mentality.
In Minnesota, Beverley’s scrappy hustle, hard-nosed defense and bravado have left a mark on a young and impressionable roster.
« They got guys that are a little bit more confident, » George said after scoring 34 points for the Clippers, who now faced the winner of the San Antonio Spurs-New Orleans Pelicans play-in game for the eighth seed. « His energy and his persona, you know, rubbed off, they made an impact on that roster.
« I know what it was coming into this game. I wasn’t going to allow Pat to do his antics and try to get me flustered. I knew it’s all for show. It’s for the crowd. Gets the crowd involved. I love it . I love it. I miss it. He did it on our side because it’s contagious. I think when he’s in that mode, it ignites the team, ignites the arena. You need guys energy like that. »
Minnesota overcame several challenges to beat the Clippers. LA led by 10 with 8:54 remaining in the game, and Karl-Anthony Towns, frustrated by being in foul trouble the entire game, crowded out with 7:34 left and just 11 points.
But Edwards scored nine of his 30 points after the 10-point deficit, and D’Angelo Russell hit a couple of big 3-pointers in the final four minutes before finishing with 29 points to help Minnesota win the game with a 21-5 run .
« I took what the game gave me, » said Edwards, who will play in his first playoff series. « And that is what they gave me.
« They were scared to guard me, and I took advantage of that. »
The Wolves celebrated on their home court like they won a playoff series. And the fans soaked it up. After all, the franchise lost an average of 46 games the past three seasons.
« I ain’t going to lie, that’s been on my mind since I figured we were playing them, » Edwards said of standing on the table like Garnett. « I’ve been going to sleep [and] saying I’m going to hit the game-winning shot and I’m going to go jump on the table. »
Beverley and the Wolves now have to face Ja Morant and the Grizzlies. But they were going to savor this playoff berth first.
« I told you, Ant, » Beverley said to Edwards. « They didn’t believe me. We going to the playoffs, baby. They looked at me like I was crazy. They said, ‘Pat, you crazy!' »