It is not yet official. But all signs point to Wolves guard Jimmy Butler returning to action after missing four games with a sore right knee. The Wolves host Brookly tonight at 8 p.m.
First, Butler was on the Target Center floor long, long after the morning shootaround ended, taking extra shots. Afterward, he wouldn’t say anything officially, but let little things slip. Like, when asked about the way Andrew Wiggins had played in his absence: “It doesn’t change, just because I’m back in the lineup,’’ he said. “Just continue to do that.’’
Coach Tom Thibodeau, of course, played it close to the vest. He only said Butler was looking good, getting close and that a decision would be made after the pre-game warmup.
But I think he plays.
Earlier in the season, when Butler missed back-to-back games with an illness, the Wolves lost two very one-sided games to Indiana and Detroit. This time the Wolves went 2-2 in the four games he missed. And while the team’s struggles on defense in losses against three-point-centric teams in Portland and Golden State were apparent, neither game was a rout.
Butler said, watching from the bench, he saw improvement from the last time he couldn’t play.
“We’ve gotten better in a lot of aspects of the game,’’ he said. “I think we still have a lot of lapses, mental lapses, on both ends of the floor. Not just defense. But we’re getting better. We’re building great habits. All that said, we went 2-2, lost the last two. We’re back at home, gotta win, must win. So, back to the drawing board.’’
And, I suspect, back to the lineup for Butler.
One other note: Brooklyn guard D'Angelo Russell, whose minutes are being limited in his return from injury, will not play tonight.