Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

Starting 5, May 20: Two all time Game 7s just happened

Wolves rally from down 20 while Pacers produce historic shooting performance to clinch Conference Finals berths on Sunday.

Starting 5

For the first time in NBA history, two road teams won Game 7s on the same day.

And both of them smashed records as they did it.


What’s inside today’s edition? 

Largest Game 7 Comeback: Minnesota rallied from 20 down vs. Denver to reach its 1st WCF since ’04

New Champ Coming: What propelled the Wolves’ series win over the defending champions?

Indy Sets Scoring Mark: The Pacers moved on with a Game 7 & Playoff record-setting performance

Top Quotes From Sunday: A day unlike any we’ve ever seen, from those at the center of the action

Conference Finals Early Look: What to look for in Pacers-Celtics & Mavs-Wolves


Sunday’s scores & what to watch today.

Today: The NBA All-Rookie Team will be announced at 2 ET, with All-Defensive coming Tuesday & All-NBA on Wednesday.

The Eastern Conference Finals start Tuesday (8 ET, ESPN), when the Celtics host the Pacers.

Western Conference Finals tip on Wednesday in Minnesota (8:30 ET, TNT) when the Mavericks come to town.


The Timberwolves pull off the largest 2nd-half comeback in Game 7 history with a confident, collected total team effort.

With 10:50 left in the 3rd quarter of Game 7, in an arena where Denver had gone a combined 14-3 over the past two postseasons, the Minnesota Timberwolves trailed, 58-38.

What happened over the next 22:50, as the Wolves battled back to beat the defending champs 98-90, carved this upstart Minnesota team’s name into the record books. | Recap

  • Largest Rally Ever: The 20-point second-half comeback broke the record for the biggest in a Game 7 in the play-by-play era (since 1997-98).
  • What It Meant: Minnesota won its second Game 7 in history, advancing to its first Conference Finals since 2004 – exactly 20 years to the day after its last trip

Being Themselves, At The Biggest Time: The NBA’s top-rated defense won the 3rd quarter 28-14 – including a 28-9 run to finish the frame and cut a 20-point deficit down to just one heading into the 4th. Watch the rally, uncut

  • The Wolves smothered the Nuggets, keeping Denver to just 20% shooting during the 28-9 run, as Minny went 50% from the field
  • Anthony Edwards shook off a slow start to lead the charge with 9 points during the run, while Karl-Anthony Towns (23 pts) added 8 and Jaden McDaniels (23 pts) chipped in 6
  • The Extended Run: From 10:50 in the 3rd until the final buzzer, Minnesota outscored Denver 60-32, holding the Nuggets to just 33% shooting and everyone but Jokic (21 pts in that stretch) to 6 pts or fewer
  • Meanwhile, the Wolves shot 48.7%, out-rebounded the Nuggets 28-13 and had every starter post a +23 or better

Minnesota executes the biggest 2nd-half comeback in NBA playoff history and eliminates the defending-champion Nuggets.

4th Quarter: Denver threatened again and again, tying the game at 72-72 with 10 minutes left and getting within 3 with under 5 mins left, at 85-82. But the Wolves kept coming.

  • After Denver got within 3, Minnesota completed its 30-point swing with this very-on-brand sequence, featuring a Naz Reid putback, Mike Conley steal and Ant 3 to go up 92-82 with 3 mins left
  • To help get there? This Ant-esque, high-arcing turnaround J from Rudy Gobert to make it 79-75 five minutes earlier
  • Said KAT & Ant: “The Rudy Gobert turnaround was crazy!” … “I was like yeah, we probably got ’em.”

Jamal Murray led the Nuggets with 35 points, including 24 in the first half, while Kia NBA MVP Nikola Jokic put up another monster line, going for 34 pts, 19 reb and 7 ast.

  • Second Time Ever: Only once before had two teammates each gone for 34+ in a Game 7, when Elgin Baylor and Jerry West both did it in the 1962 NBA Finals


For the sixth straight year, the NBA will have a different champion – just the second time that’s ever happened, and the first time in 44 years.

A Year’s Difference: After Denver took down the Wolves in five games last year, Minnesota became just the ninth team to beat a defending champ in their home building in a Game 7.

  • Fifth Time Ever: The Wolves are the fifth team to beat a reigning champion three times on the road in a Playoff series
  • Slowing The Champs: Sunday marked the 4th time this series that the Wolves held the Nuggets to under 100 points
  • That had happened just three prior times to Denver in 30 postseason games since 2022
  • In doing so, Minnesota became the 9th team since 1984 to reach the Conference Finals after finishing as the No. 8 seed the year before

Edwards, despite a 6-for-24 night, kept his superstar rise going with a 27.7 average on 50% shooting for the series – making him just the 8th player age 22 or younger to average 25 ppg going into the Conference Finals.

  • The Previous Names? Trae Young (2021), Jayson Tatum (2020), Kevin Durant (2011), Derrick Rose (2011), LeBron James (2007), Amar’e Stoudemire (2005) and Kobe Bryant (2001)
  • KAT, who punctuated the win with a massive putback, joined Kevin Garnett (2003-04) as the only Timberwolves to total 200 points and 100 rebounds in a playoff run
  • And it happened on KG’s birthday – as did the Wolves’ Game 7 win 20 years ago
  • Said KAT: “Happy birthday, KG … Here’s your present, from all of us.”

Up Next: The Timberwolves aim to make their first NBA Finals appearance in team history.

  • Get on the court next to Ant & KAT as they celebrate a milestone moment for Minnesota hoops


Indy Makes History In MSG: In a win or go home Game 7, against an all-time rival, playing in enemy territory in The World’s Most Famous Arena, the Indiana Pacers put on one of history’s greatest Playoff performances to reach their first Eastern Conference Finals since 2014.

Tyrese Haliburton led the way with 26 points as the Pacers – the NBA’s top offense during the regular season – broke an NBA Playoff record by shooting 67.1% from the field to eliminate the Knicks, 130-109, on Sunday. | Recap

  • Game 7 Pantheon: The Pacers’ 53 FGM tied the 1969 Knicks for the second-most in Game 7 history (1969 Semis vs. Baltimore Bullets)
  • Starting 5 Thrive: Indy’s starters all scored 15+ pts and shot over 50%, marking the first time that’s happened in a Game 7 since 1971 – and just the seventh time it’s happened in the Playoffs
  • Early & Often: The Pacers raced out to a 70-point first half (on 76.3% shooting), joining the 2014 Clippers as the only team to score at least 70 in a Game 7 half since 1998 – after the most 1st Q points in that same time period (39)
  • Tyrese Haliburton’s 200+ pts and 100+ ast in a postseason run make him the first Pacer to ever do it, and just the third Pacer with 100+ ast (Mark Jackson 4x, Haywoode Workman)
  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle: “I just told our team, ‘When you win a Game 7 in Madison Square Garden, you’ve made history’.”

The Pacers set a record for best shooting performance in a playoff game as they defeat the Knicks and advance to the East Finals.

It Takes Everyone: TJ McConnell’s 12 points and 7 assists helped him to a +21 rating, making him the 12th player of the play-by-play era to be +21 or better off the bench in a Game 7.

  • Donte Sets New Mark: Donte DiVincenzo dropped a Knicks Playoff-record 9 3-pointers and a career Playoff-high 39 points for New York, who was trying to reach its first Conference Finals since 2000
  • Fight ‘Til The End: The Knicks had persevered through injury after injury all season, but Jalen Brunson’s broken hand in the 3rd quarter proved too much, after OG Anunoby (hamstring) started the game but lasted under five minutes, while Josh Hart labored through an abdomen injury

A New Chapter: The third Game 7 between the two teams saw Indy make 11 of its first 12 shots, then after the Knicks cut the lead to 73-67 in the third quarter, build the lead back up to 84-70.


How to sum up a monumental day in league history?

Let’s get out of the way and have the players & coaches tell the story.


  • Edwards: “There’s more ways to win the basketball game when you’re just not an offensive player. I’m not one-dimensional. I’m not just a guy who can score. I’m a guy who – whoever their best guard is, I can go lock him down.
  • “I feel like I did that on Jamal in the fourth quarter – in the third quarter and fourth quarter – and that’s what turned the game around.”
  • Rudy Gobert: “It feels great … Beating a team like they are, an incredible team, a championship team, with the best player in the world, it feels good.”
  • Mike Conley, walking off: “We got some dogs over here.”


  • Myles Turner: “We have a historic offense obviously, but [Haliburton] got things rolling and everybody kind of just followed suit.
  • “To do that on the road here in the Garden in Game 7 obviously is phenomenal, but I think this is what we’ve been doing all season long and we were able to show it on the biggest stage.”
  • Tyrese Haliburton: “I think it’s just the old-school way of thinking that you can’t play this fast in the playoffs, but I think opportunistically you can do it. I think if we’re able to get stops, of course we can.”


  • Coach Mike Malone: “They gave me everything I could ever ask for.
  • Jokic: “I think they’re built to beat us. … Just look at their roster. They have two All-Stars, two probably [First Team] defensive players, Mike Conley who’s probably the most underrated player in the NBA.”
  • Malone: “The one thing I keep on going back to right now is that I consider the San Antonio Spurs a dynasty and they never won back-to-back. So losing, the hurt of it, the pain of it, it helped us win our first championship. Can we use this year?”
  • Jamal Murray: “It’s back to being the hunter.”


  • Coach Tom Thibodeau: “Knowing that this team gave its best effort all year long, I can live with the result. It’s disappointing, but in the end there’s only going to be one happy team. Twenty-nine teams will fall short. This team fought like crazy and there’s no regret.”
  • Jalen Brunson on Knicks fans: “They have been nothing but amazing… I can’t really put into words what they mean to me.”


Anthony Edwards didn’t hesitate.

When the Inside the NBA crew asked Ant postgame about his thoughts on facing Dallas, he answered quickly.

  • Said Ant: “It’s gonna be fun man. My matchup is gonna be Kyrie, so that’s gonna be fun. We’ll see what I can do vs. him.”

Minnesota hosts Dallas for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday (8:30 ET, TNT), in a showdown between two teams whose defense has caused nightmares this postseason – and two teams who haven’t met since one (Dallas) overhauled its defense completely.

  • The Wolves won the season series, 3-1
  • They haven’t played since the Trade Deadline, when the Mavs acquired Daniel Gafford & P.J. Washington, who led coach Jason Kidd to say “our defense came when they arrived.”
  • One Early Question: Can the Wolves stifle the Mavs’ balanced attack, including their dynamic duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving?

But first, the Pacers and Celtics meet on Tuesday (8 ET, ESPN) in a series defined – at least to start – by offense.

  • Boston took the season series, 3-2, with Indy eliminating the Celtics in the In-Season Tournament quarters
  • The Pacers & Celtics rank as the NBA’s top & second-best offenses by PPG & OffRtg this year, in a season that saw both clubs smash team & league records
  • One Early Question: Who has the advantage at point guard, between Tyrese Haliburton’s elite playmaking … and Jrue Holiday’s defensive & all-around game?