As Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley were walking to the Timberwolves locker room late Thursday night, the big center had a message for his point guard.

"I missed you, Mike Conley," Gobert said. "Don't ever leave me again."

Conley missed Game 5 of the Wolves' playoff series against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday because of a right calf injury. He made it back for Game 6 on Thursday and posted 13 points, five assists in a 115-70 victory at Target Center, but there were also some unquantifiable intangibles not shown in the box score.

The Wolves had their collective big brother, the organizer of the offense and the person who brings the temperature down a bit when guys get too heated, back on the floor. Conley did all that for the Wolves in Game 6.

"He's Mike Conley," Gobert said. "It's a joke to me — 'Never leave us.' I just know everything he does for us as a person and also on the court as a leader, and what he does is contagious."

When asked why the Wolves had such a big response Thursday after a lopsided loss Tuesday in Denver, All-Star guard Anthony Edwards said, "We got Mike Conley back. As simple as that."

It wasn't quite as simple as Conley just deciding he was going to suit up for Game 6, even if he made it seem that way after the game. Conley said he could not walk two days ago after suffering the soleus injury late in Game 4. But if there was a chance he could play, he wasn't going to let it pass.

"I was gonna try to find a way," Conley said. "We're just better when we're a complete team."

He called the decision a "no-brainer," especially after he had a good day of treatment on Wednesday.

"I was able to get to my toes a little bit more, and this morning, from that to being able to really jump, move and run a little bit better," he said. "That's all I needed was to have that confidence to be able to move like that."

At 36, nobody is going to mistake Conley for having the burst of, say, Edwards, but his game and ability to create space still relies on his quickness off the dribble. He tried to limit his sudden movements on the offensive end and be patient coming around screens.

Conley has tried to gut through an injury before in his playoffs career, when he was battling a strained hamstring with Utah in the 2021 playoffs against the Clippers. He wasn't himself when he came back in the series for Game 6 after missing the first five. So he tried to apply what happened then to Thursday.

"I've been there before and maybe that was a lesson learned for me on how to adjust my game for a game like this," Conley said "I tried to play a different pace."

Conley had an impact even in doing the simple things on offense, such as just bringing the ball up the floor, which alleviated pressure on Edwards to do it himself. He also helped Edwards set the table for teammates like Jaden McDaniels, who had 21 points.

"Last game I was trying to get people involved and be aggressive. But when Mike's playing I don't have to worry about getting people involved. That's his job," Edwards said. "Tonight it was no getting people involved for me. I don't think I had that many assists tonight."

Then Edwards glanced at the box score.

"Oh, I had four. I did what I needed to do."

Edwards won't have to worry about initiating the offense again in Game 7 because Conley said he'll be ready to go. Having two days off between games will help in his recovery. Same for Edwards, who landed hard on his lower back and tailbone in the third quarter. Conley has played in four Game 7s in his career and he's 0-4 in them, including one against Denver in the bubble in 2020.

"I haven't won one yet, so I'm hoping this is that, you know what I mean?" Conley said. "It's time. Game 7s are the best. You get to experience an environment, similar to like a March Madness, when it's win or go home. Anything can happen. It didn't matter how much we won by tonight or how much they won by the last three games. It's what can you do tonight?"

With Conley able to play, the Wolves feel better about their chances.