Jaden McDaniels looked iffy to return in time for the postseason after he sprained an ankle late in the Timberwolves’ win in San Antonio last month.
Yet he was at target center on Tuesday, returning to action against Washington with three games to play in the regular season.
“All the credit for the work goes to Jaden,” said Timberwolves coach Chris Finch. “All credit to our performing staff. They did an incredible job of getting her here a little ahead of schedule.
Finch said the timing of this comeback was “very, very big” for McDaniels. This allows the wing of the second year – which will start on a 15-minute minute ban – to get back into the flow of the game before the postseason.
‘We were hoping it would work out that way,’ Finch said.
Finch said that every player’s recovery is different. He can’t believe that McDaniels has suffered multiple ankle sprains in the past.
“I think like the first few days they responded really well, and then it’s like a pain,” Finch said. “Sometimes it hurts to go in one direction and not the other. So, it’s time to find out all. We were encouraged a lot from the beginning.”
With an ankle sprain, getting back on action is one thing. It’s another to look like yourself on the floor.
Finch’s enthusiasm has been fueled by the way McDaniels looks at her workouts. McDaniels played in the team’s “Stay in Shape League” – which features players who don’t see several minutes of Gameday scrimmage on Tuesday before being ruled for the game.
“He looked really good,” Finch said. “We hope it transfers there. There is always a rhythm and a feeling. I’m not worried about it. I just want to see her there and trust her ankle.”
McDaniels checked in Tuesday’s contest with 4 minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the first frame.
Beverly out again
Patrick Beverly missed a second game in a row on Tuesday, which was listed as an ankle pain. Finch said the veteran guard is also suffering from pain in his hip. The coach said the 34-year-old guard was asked twice out of play in the Wolves’ win in Denver on Friday as he struggled with various bumps and injuries.
LeBron James missed the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against Phoenix on Tuesday with an ankle pain.
Why does this matter for Minnesota?
Well, James currently leads the NBA in points per game. But he would have to play 58 matches to officially win the scoring title. He has played 56 currently. So he will have to play in two of the last three matches of the Lakers’ regular season.
The Lakers play Denver on Sunday, and Minnesota may need James & Co. to upset Denver to move to the No. 6 seed and avoid the play-in.
The start of the Timberwolves’ game on Tuesday was slightly delayed as confetti fell from the roof of the goal centre. It was leftover confetti from South Carolina’s national championship ceremony on Sunday night at the conclusion of the Women’s Final Four.