The tradition of visiting a bar to monitor the level of fever for a Twin Cities sports team doesn't require a search for Wild fans.
Start at Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub, visit a couple of other saloons on West Seventh Street in St. Paul, and you're golden.
On Tuesday night, the target was a bar with rabid Timberwolves fans. The team's bit of a downturn — one playoff appearance in the previous 17 years — made that a task.
Imagine my surprise that the old bars with a pool table in a smallish room — the ones where my now-departed brother Michael would receive several death threats for his tactics — are nowhere to be found.
What we have now are these places called brewhouses. In Minneapolis, they can be found in former industrial areas with repurposed buildings.
There were a couple of false starts and then I wound up at HeadFlyer Brewing, on East Hennepin.
It's all about beer with clever names. Early 30s couples, not married but together. They are on board with the Wolves through the lows and enjoying this high, although not foaming at the mouth over it, as will many Wild-ing followers when the St. Louis series starts on Monday.
Also: "There are dogs in here," I said to Patrick Kelliher, the early-arriver holding down a table for what would be a party of seven.
He nodded and said, "Yes, this always has been a pet-friendly place."
There were 50 people looking at the big screen when the game started and soon a couple dozen more. The Wolves did everything wrong imaginable and fell behind 13-2.
And then Pat Beverley made a three, and so did Karl-Anthony Towns, and every basket, caused quite an eruption of sound.
Finally, D'Angelo Russell made two threes in a row, and the battle was joined, for what would be another 2 ½ hours.
Towns was tremendous for most of the night, despite the clawing, attacking double teams, but the other Timberwolves stopped making shots, and they couldn't keep Ja Morant and Co. out of those crucial few feet around the basket.
In the end, the Wolves allowed the relentless, ultra-quick Morant to split the defense for a lefty lay-up with one second left for a 111-109 victory.
Teams that win Game 5 in a 2-2 series win advance over 80% of the time in the NBA. Throw that stat in with the way this one ended, including a string of awful shots that started with Beverley's cast from 26 feet and, well, it looks like 18 straight years without a playoff series win … which would be one more than the Twins at the moment.
Russell also was a liability for almost the entire second half — to the point you wanted to shout, "Bring back Wiggy."
Ah, well. Most of us figured the Wolves were dead once and they came back to win Game 4 on Saturday, and there's also been strange results that have surfaced in the NBA lately.
The 2017-18 Wolves ended a 13-season playoff dearth by beating Denver in the last game of the regular season at Target Center. They finished 47-35 and drew No. 1 seed Houston, with a 65-17 record. They had to play hellacious hoops to win one game.
This does seem to be a rare period the NBA when strange happenings are possible. Almost forever, the plagues of the NBA have been huge discrepancies in the standings, followed by predictable results in the playoffs.
As recently as 2015-18, after LeBron James had returned to Cleveland, Golden State and the Cavaliers played in four straight championship series, with the Warriors winning three.
When LeBron headed to the Lakers in the summer of 2018, Masai Ujiri, president of the Toronto Raptors, decided to take his shot in the Eastern Conference and traded DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio for the great, enigmatic Kawhi Leonard.
The Raptors upset Golden State in six games in the 2019 NBA Finals. The Lakers and LeBron won it in 2020 inside the COVID bubble in Orlando.
In 2021, the champions were the Milwaukee Bucks, second-time winners and 50 years after the first. The opponents were the Phoenix Suns, a team that had been 19-63 as recently as 2018-19.
Imagination could have run wild (or Wild-like) for Wolves fans if they made a couple of plays down the stretch. After two gut-punch losses in this series, that's been reduced to imagine if-only.