Minnesota Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler tore his meniscus in Friday’s game against the Houston Rockets. And he’s already undergone successful surgery to repair the injury at the Mayo Clinic.
Butler suffered a non-contact tear in the third quarter of Minnesota’s loss to the Rockets. He sat on the floor in pain, then needed help getting back to the locker room.
The All-Star is averaging 22.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in 56 games for his team. Minnesota is currently sitting in third place in the tough Western Conference.
Butler Hopes to be Back before the 2018 Playoffs
A torn meniscus is certainly not a light injury. But the good news for Butler is that it’s also not as bad as tearing an ACL. This has him thinking that he can be back before the playoffs start in late April.
Assuming Minnesota can hang onto one of the top eight spots in the West, they’ll clinch their first playoff berth in the last 13 seasons.
“I’ve been around this a long time,” said Minnesota forward Taj Gibson, who’s been Butler’s teammate dating back to their days with the Chicago Bulls.
“The bright side is it isn’t his ACL, so that’s a good thing. It still sucks he has a tough injury; all injuries are tough, but the doctors are saying some good things, so we’ll see in a few weeks maybe.”
What will Timberwolves be Facing without Butler?
Minnesota is coming off an easy schedule of eight straight games against teams with sub-500 records. And they’ve used this to add a cushion in the standings with regard to earning home-court in the first round.
Furthermore, there’s still a chance that Butler returns this year, given that a meniscus injury isn’t as bad as an ACL. One more positive is that even if he doesn’t make it back for the playoffs, he’ll be fully ready for the start of the 2018-2019 campaign.
But not everything is great for Minnesota following the loss of Butler. Their schedule heats up considerably in March, when they play road games against Portland, Utah, Washington, and San Antonio. They’ll also have tough home games against Boston, Golden State, Houston and the L.A. Clippers.
All of these teams are above .500, and some of them are either chasing Minnesota in the standings or trying to hold them off.
The Timberwolves weren’t a playoff club last year due to their young roster. And there’s no question that adding Butler has accelerated this team’s development. This being said, they’ll be tested moving forward without their All-Star swingman.
Minnesota should still play well, given that they have Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Jeff Teague leading the way. But it’s going to be much tougher to make it through their March schedule without Butler on the floor.
How Minnesota emerges from the upcoming eight-game stretch will say a lot about them moving forward. It doesn’t help matters that the team is only 4.5 games ahead of the 10th-place Western Conference squad.
Adding to the difficulty is that other players will have to step things up on the defensive end, with stars like Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum; Donovan Mitchell, Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Bradley Beal, James Harden, and Lou Williams coming up on the schedule.
Butler is one of the best defenders in the league, and he can guard multiple positions with ease. But without him, Minnesota could struggle to contain the gauntlet ahead.
Timberwolves Odds Moving Forward
If you want to bet on the T-Wolves, you can do so right here. But keep in mind that it will be fairly difficult to judge them for the next few games.
It’s also hard to figure out where we can expect the Timberwolves to land in the standings. The West is still very much unsettled right now. But given that Minnesota has been out of the playoffs for so long, many will be rooting for them to make it through the tough upcoming stretch.