Minnesota Timberwolves schedule release: Important dates, takeaways

D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Highlights and takeaways from the Minnesota Timberwolves 2020-21 first-half schedule.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have released the schedule for the “First Half” of the 2020-21 season.

Because of the uncertainties that abound in the upcoming season related to COVID-19, the league is choosing to release roughly half of the schedule and withhold the second portion in case of any need to reschedule games.

That means that we have the Wolves’ schedule through March 1. The second half will begin on March 11, following the All-Star Break. The Second Half schedule will be released “during the latter part of the First Half”, according to the league’s press release.

Let’s take a look at some of the key dates and immediate reaction.

Minnesota Timberwolves schedule release: Early season challenges

The Wolves start the season at home against the Detroit Pistons and have a great chance to open the slate with a 1-0 record. From there, however, it gets much more difficult.

After the opener, the Timberwolves head west for a difficult back-to-back: in Salt Lake City to face the Jazz on Dec. 26 and Los Angeles to take on the defending-champion Lakers on Dec. 27. Then, an off day in L.A. before facing the Clippers.

Then, three of the next four games are against tough Western Conference opponents, including two games against the Denver Nuggets and one against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The balance of January gets a lot easier, however.  Beginning with Jan. 9 against San Antonio, the Wolves will play 11 of 12 games through the end of the month against non-playoff teams from a year ago. Of course, two of those are against Golden State, so let’s call it nine of 12 games that the Wolves have a chance to be favored in.

Minnesota Timberwolves schedule release: Schedule quirks

The nature of the 2020-21 campaign is that it will be … unique, to say the least.

As we noted with the preseason schedule, which features consecutive home games against the same opponent, there are a number of instances of playing the same team twice in a row.

Here’s how the league explains it, from their schedule announcement press release:

"The schedule incorporates steps to reduce travel, including the use of a “series” model. In some instances where a team is scheduled to play twice in one market, those games have been scheduled to be played consecutively. Each team will play an average of four “series” in the First Half – two at home and two on the road. Additional steps include more instances of teams playing consecutive road games against teams that are geographically close, and roughly 50% fewer instances of teams making single-game road trips."

The Wolves have a home-and-home against Denver on Jan. 3 and 5 and home games on back-to-back nights against the Spurs on Jan. 9 and 10. Then, consecutive home games against the Memphis Grizzlies on Jan. 13 and 15 and road games against the Warriors on Jan. 25 and 27.

There is only one instance of this for Minnesota in February, and that comes in the form of back-to-back road games against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Feb. 5 and 6.

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We’ll be breaking down the schedule and putting out some first-half predictions over the weekend, so stay tuned.