Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jimmy Butler was given the green light to be listed as active for Thursday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets but wound up sitting one more game as a DNP—coach’s decision.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau explained the puzzling decision that could have cost him the game after the Nuggets came away with a crucial 100-96 win to keep their playoff hopes alive, dropping the Wolves to eighth and now in a virtual tie that could draw complications.
“Taking everything into consideration, we just though it was best to wait another day,” Thibodeau said after the game, per Timberwolves radio announcer Alan Horton.
Thibodeau said Butler is “real close” to getting back on the court, and that he could potentially play Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
It’s likely Thibodeau didn’t plan to play his All-Star forward in a back-to-back coming off a torn meniscus injury, but Minnesota could end up missing out on the postseason completely if the Lakers pull out another surprise job like they did against the San Antonio Spurs earlier in the week, with a shocking overtime win.
Playing Butler helps their chances tremendously, as the Timberwolves have a minus-5.1 net rating without Butler, but a net rating of plus-7.8 when he laces them up, according to NBA.com Stats.
Minnesota will take on its last road challenge tonight, before finishing off the season against the Memphis Grizzlies and the Nuggets, once again, for the season finale, in what’s bound to be a fight-for-your-life fireworks show.