With just seven games remaining in the regular season, the Minnesota Timberwolves are seemingly competing in a playoff-like atmosphere every night. They are caught in the middle of an epic struggle in the Western Conference that features nine teams with four games of each other in the standings.
After their massive win over the Warriors at Chase Center on Monday night, the Wolves moved up to the seven spot in the West, and trimmed Golden State’s lead on them in the standings to just a half game. The Mavericks’ surprising loss in Charlotte and the Bulls’ defeat of the Lakers were supremely helpful for Minnesota as well.
Every night from here on out will likely result in a significant shift in the standings. If all goes right on Monday evening, the Timberwolves could end the night tied for fifth in the West. Here are the teams Wolves fans should be rooting for (and against) for that to happen.
Who Timberwolves fans should root for in Monday night’s NBA games:
1. Indiana Pacers to beat the Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks have struggled mightily since acquiring Kyrie Irving at the trade deadline, going just 7-13 since adding the All-Star guard. The Mavs’ Sunday loss against the Charlotte Hornets perfectly encapsulated their growing problems.
Luka Doncic was initially set to be suspended for Monday’s game against the Pacers after receiving his 16th technical foul of the season against the Hornets. But with the league rescinding the technical, he should be set to play in this one.
The Mavs are currently out of the play-in picture at 11th in the West. They currently sit two full games behind the Timberwolves, and a loss on Monday would make it even harder for them to catch Minnesota in the standings.
2. Utah Jazz to beat the Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns are still without Kevin Durant, and are currently as beatable as they will be for the remainder of the regular season. Their hold on the fourth spot in the conference has continued to slip as Durant continues to miss more time.
This is one of those bizarre situations where it may seem difficult to determine which team winning would give Minnesota a greater advantage. But with the Suns a game and a half ahead of the Wolves and the Utah Jazz two and a half games behind them, a Jazz victory would allow Minnesota to inch closer to Phoenix and would not allow Utah to jump close enough for it to matter at this point in time.
3. Portland Trail Blazers to beat the New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans has been without Zion Williamson for some time, and it will likely be next season before he joins the team again. Still, the Pelicans remain right on the Timberwolves’ heels at eighth in the West. A New Orleans win would tie them for seventh place.
Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers have been limping to the finish line and are on the verge of shutting down Damian Lillard for the season. Portland’s play-in chances are slim, and they are not playing for much at this point in the season. If they were to deal the Pelicans a loss on Monday, it would be extra sweet for Timberwolves fans.
4. Chicago Bulls to beat the Los Angeles Clippers
Incredibly, the Bulls have a top five record in the NBA since the trade deadline. Their win against the Lakers on Sunday was already a big help to Minnesota, and they can double the favor by taking down the short-handed Clippers as well, who are still without Paul George.
Wolves fans have an extra dog in the fight here as well, with former Timberwolf Patrick Beverley now taking on the role of Chicago’s veteran leader. A Los Angeles loss and a Minnesota win on Monday would tie the two teams’ records, and put the Timberwolves one step closer to earning a top six spot in the West to avoid the play-in tournament.