Timberwolves allow a golden opportunity to slip through their fingers

Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves returned to Target Center, riding the crest of a three-game winning streak, and the mood on the team was pretty positive. This was a Minnesota Timberwolves team that was beginning to climb through the ranks of the NBA Western Conference, a tedious and difficult task because so many teams are on par with the Minnesota Timberwolves right now.

It’s a bunched-up group, a pack of 10 teams in the conference that beat up on one another, with no team pulling away and no team falling too far behind. In terms of the group’s ranking, the best of the bunch is the Phoenix Suns (36-29), and yet they are only 5.5 games ahead of the worst of the bunch, the Utah Jazz (31-35). The Minnesota Timberwolves (34-33) are in the middle of the pack (pun intended), hovering just three games behind the Suns and just 2.5 games ahead of the Jazz.

But the Timberwolves had the opportunity to be in a much better spot.

Ah, what might have been for the Wolves

Had the Timberwolves beaten the visiting Philadelphia 76ers, a team without James Harden, the Timberwolves would have an entirely different story to tell right now. Had the Minnesota Timberwolves found a victory, the team would be 35-32 right now, sitting in the fifth-seeded NBA Western Conference team, and riding a four-game winning streak.

Can you guess what the Timberwolves really did against the Philadelphia 76ers?

Anthony Edwards led the Timberwolves with 32 points on 34 minutes of play. Unfortunately, to find the next best scorer, you have to look to the Timberwolves bench, as PF Taurean Prince added 13 points and C Naz Reid added 11.

It was a recurring theme for the Timberwolves, as they could not defend the perimeter and could not score from the perimeter. The 76ers shot 60 percent from the arc, with their starters scoring on 11 of 16 shots from three-point range. The entire Timberwolves roster only scored 11 times from that distance but needed 36 attempts to do so.

The narratives of the Timberwolves’ post-game wrap-ups continue to point to players who do not suit up to face the Timberwolves but fail to mention the absence of All-Star PF Karl-Anthony Towns, For this contest, Towns was joined by SG Jaylen Nowell, who is fighting through a nagging left knee injury.

All the team can do is regroup and be better prepared for their next contest. Ah, but what a golden opportunity, and the Minnesota Timberwolves just let it slip away.

More. Timberwolves Twitter debate: Best nickname for Jaden McDaniels. light