Minnesota Timberwolves NBA schedule release: January is a winnable month

Malik Beasley of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Malik Beasley of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves have their work cut out for them in trying to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. But January is a month that the Wolves should win.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have made the playoffs once in the last 19 years.

Their best player has admitted that his heart is not in basketball at the moment — and understandably so, given the tragic death of his mother. The same disease that took her life continues to ravage the country and will make for the most unique and challenging NBA season in history.

On top of all of that, the Western Conference is a juggernaut, and the Wolves finished second-to-last in the West last year. The only team they finished ahead of, the Golden State Warriors, gets back their multi-time MVP from injury and won’t be finishing in last place again.

So, how might the Wolves possibly manage to make a run at a playoff spot?

Minnesota Timberwolves NBA schedule release: January is a winnable month

The First-Half schedule was released on Friday, and we all found out that the season starts with an extremely tough road swing. Following the home opener against the Detroit Pistons, who figure to be one of the NBA’s worst teams, the Wolves have to take on Utah and both LA teams on the road.

But when the calendar flips to 2021, things get exceedingly easier. Yes, that goes beyond basketball — we’re almost there, 2020 is nearly over! — but in this instance, let’s focus on the Timberwolves schedule.

In the month of January, 11 of the Wolves’ 16 games will come against non-playoff teams from a year ago. They play each No. 8 seed one time each (Portland and Orlando) and only, too, and the only likely title contenders on their schedule are Denver (twice) and Philadelphia.

Yes, they play the Warriors twice, but Golden State will be missing Klay Thompson again this year and is likely to be somewhere between the league-worst squad from last year and the dominant franchise that won the Finals in three out of four years.

The stretch spanning Jan. 13 to 23 looks particularly friendly. The Wolves will take on Memphis and Atlanta twice each during that span, plus Orlando and New Orleans.

Sure, the Hawks should be much improved, Memphis barely missed the playoffs and has Rookie of the Year runner-up Ja Morant, Orlando was the No. 8 seed in the East last year, and New Orleans has Zion Williamson. But when it comes to stretches of any schedule, this is about as winnable as it gets.

If the Wolves can manage to go something like 10-6 or 11-5 in the month of January, then we’re definitely looking at a team that will be in the mix for one of the top 10 spots in the West come May. (Remember, the No. 9 and No. 10 seeds receive play-in game berths this year.)

If Minnesota is around the .500 mark in January, then we’re looking at a team that is far more likely going to find themselves in one of the bottom two or three spots in the rough-and-tumble Western Conference.

Next. Wolves schedule release: Important dates. dark

So, keep your eye on January. The Wolves will go as the beginning of 2021 goes. And, for all of our sakes, let’s hope it gets off to a good start.