Injury Notes: Wolves, Murray, Middleton, George

The Timberwolves will have both of their three-time All-Star big men active for Friday’s final play-in game against the Thunder, Minnesota announced (via Twitter). Rudy Gobert (back spasms) and Karl-Anthony Towns (right calf strain) were upgraded from questionable to available and will start, per the team.

Wolves guard Jaylen Nowell, who was previously questionable with left knee tendinopathy, will also be active. Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News was first to report (via Twitter) that Nowell would be ready to go.

In an interesting rotational change, the Wolves are inserting Nickeil Alexander-Walker into the starting lineup for the first time to defend his cousin, Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

They’re cousins, so there should be familiarity there but we like Nickeil’s ability to go get him full court and his size on him,” head coach Chris Finch said before the game (Twitter link via Alan Horton of Wolves Radio).

Here are some more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray continues to be hampered by a nagging right thumb sprain on his shooting hand, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscriber link). “I’m still thinking about it,” Murray said. “I’m full participating (in practice). It’s just sore. Every catch, every shot, I’m always fiddling with it trying to make it feel better, but it’ll be OK.” Denver’s second-leading scorer has been dealing with the injury for a few weeks, Singer adds, but he’s otherwise healthy and feeling ready for the playoffs.
  • Khris Middleton, a three-time All-Star for the Bucks, was a full practice participant on Thursday, according to an Associated Press report (link via ESPN). Middleton experienced discomfort in his right knee on April 5 against Chicago, causing him to leave the game early. Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton were partial practice participants, per The AP — both players are dealing with right ankle sprains, causing them to miss the final few games of the regular season (four for Allen, three for Connaughton). The Bucks will face the Heat in their first-round playoff series after Miami defeated Chicago and advanced as the No. 8 seed in the East.
  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters, including Law Murray of The Athletic, that star wing Paul George, who has been out since March 21 after suffering a right knee sprain, is making progress in his recovery. However, the team won’t rush him back for its first-round series against Phoenix, with Lue saying the Clippers need George to be “close to 100 percent” in order to prevent a possible re-injury. While there’s no official timeline for George’s return, a source tells Murray the veteran forward is targeting a potential second-round return, assuming the Clippers advance (Twitter link).
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