On paper, the Minnesota Timberwolves should be a much better team than their current record. I say that with a straight face, knowing that this team has competed without All-Star PF/C Karl-Anthony Towns for the past 41 games. The reason? The Minnesota Timberwolves (31-31) stumble when facing those NBA teams that they should beat.
If you survey the Timberwolves’ record against the bottom five teams in the NBA, you will not be pleasantly surprised.
Against the 30th-ranked Houston Rockets (13-46), the Timberwolves are 3-1.
Against the 29th-ranked San Antonio Spurs (14-46), the Timberwolves are 1-2 with one game remaining.
Against the 28th-ranked Detroit Pistons (15-45), the Timberwolves are 0-2.
Against the 27th-ranked Charlotte Hornets (18-43), the Timberwolves are 0-2.
Against the 26th-ranked Orlando Magic (25-35), the Timberwolves are 1-1.
Worse play against NBA’s worst teams
So against the five worst teams in the NBA, the Timberwolves’ record is an unimpressive 5-8. Considering the fact that the Minnesota Timberwolves have a record of 31-31, and are clinging to a precariously dangerous seventh seed for the upcoming NBA Playoffs, the team would certainly have benefitted from some more wins against some pretty bad teams.
Even if the Timberwolves had managed just two or three more wins against the bottom five teams, they would be firmly entrenched alongside the LA Clippers and Phoenix Suns tied for the fourth-seeded team in the NBA Western Conference. Had the Timberwolves swept all 13 games from this group, they would be the second-seeded team in the conference.
If’s and buts, candy, and nuts. The Minnesota Timberwolves clearly do not have any ‘gimme’ games on the schedule. But when the team loses to a sub-.500 team at home in Target Center after the NBA All-Star Break, you have to worry if the team has enough in them to get to the NBA Playoffs, let alone win once they are there.
The Charlotte Hornets won a game against the Timberwolves that means little more than bragging rights. But the Timberwolves lost a game that means a great deal in terms of their chances to compete in the post-season.