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Jimmy Butler is one step closer to returning to the Wolves

The Wolves are in a meat grinder of a playoff race.

Jimmy Butler has been cleared for contact for the first time since suffering a tear of the meniscus in his right knee in a Feb. 23 game against the Houston Rockets. 

Being cleared for contact does not mean he's been cleared to play, but it's a big step in his road back to game action. 

Butler still has to show that his knee holds up after more grueling practices before he'll be reinserted into the lineup, according to the Star Tribune.  

Related: 

Wolves bringing back throwback uniforms next season?

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Minnesota is in a meat grinder of a playoff race, and entering play Friday they are in 7th place with a record of 43-33, but just one game behind the 4th-place Spurs (44-32). 

Oklahoma City is in 5th at 44-32 and New Orleans is 6th at 43-32. Right behind the Wolves are Ricky Rubio are the Utah Jazz (42-33). 

The Los Angeles Clippers (41-34) are 9th in the West but only 1.5 games behind the Wolves.  

Minnesota plays Dallas at 7:30 p.m. Friday and then wraps up the regular season with five games in April, including a big one Sunday at Target Center against Utah. 

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