Yes, it’s a long shot. But hey, it’s a shorter shot than it has been for a full decade, so we’re going to talk about it.
On Wednesday evening of this week, the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies both pulled out contests that they trailed big early on. It was a frustrating turn of events for Wolves fans, and the Phoenix Suns’ home loss to Cleveland was of minimal solace.
The Wolves are now just 3 1/2 games out of the ninth spot in the Western Conference, but still remain 5 1/2 games out of a postseason spot with just 19 games to play. None of the teams that Minnesota is chasing are in action on Thursday night, so the deficit won’t change again until Friday evening’s slate is played.
It’s nearly a lock that the playoffs are out of reach for the Timberwolves, but given the franchise’s recent history, we’ll keep tabs on the race. For what it’s worth, the ESPN Hollinger Playoff Odds have dropped from 11-odd percent on Wednesday to 10.7% after the victories by Dallas and Memphis that evening.
Obviously, the Wolves have another must-win on Friday night in Charlotte against a Bobcats squad that’s been playing much better of late and will almost certainly make the playoffs in the embarrassing Eastern Conference, despite their 31-34 record. Minnesota follows that with another should/must-win game at home against Sacramento on Sunday evening.
And then the tougher stretch begins. A road game against the Mavericks, whom the Wolves have gone 2-1 against so far this season, including a win in Dallas and the Ed Malloy debacle in Minneapolis. Then they play the second night of a back-to-back in Houston before getting a pair of off days leading into a pair of must-wins: home against Phoenix and the second night of a back-to-back in Memphis.
If the Wolves can somehow go 5-1 in the next six games with the lone loss coming in Houston, they’ll still be in the conversation. But that back-to-back in Memphis is no walk in the park.
Anyways, let’s ensure that the Wolves can pick up wins on Friday and Sunday before we get too ahead of ourselves. It should be fun, now that the sense of urgency has apparently (finally) kicked in for the Wolves.