How long before the Minnesota Timberwolves start winning games they should be winning? Monday’s 119-114 loss to the Houston Rockets was the latest in a series of troubling losses that have become increasingly painful as the season progresses.
The wolves come into play on Tuesday at 24:25. They sit in ninth place in a crowded Western Conference, just 1.5 games behind Dallas in fifth place, but just one game ahead of the Lakers and Portland in places 12 and 13. There are 10 teams in the West, all within separated by four games.
Recent losses to Houston, Detroit (twice) and an undermanned Miami team are all hard to accept. If Minnesota had taken care of business in those games, they’d be 28-21 and comfortably in the top four.
“It’s a bad trend but it’s a trend,” admitted Anthony Edwards after Monday’s defeat. “It’s a bad tendency that I have to change in myself and then we have to change together. If that was someone else, we come ready to play.”
Minnesota is 49 games into the season and they haven’t figured that out yet. Sure, Kyle Anderson got into bad trouble, Taurean Prince was out with a sprained ankle and Karl-Anthony Towns and Jordan McLaughlin stayed out with calf injuries, but Houston has been on a 13-game losing streak and has a roster that’s doing it — despite Minnesota’s complaints – is not nearly as talented.
“The games we have to win are the ones we have to take care of,” Edwards continued.
Short Message: They are running out of these kind of games.
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Minnesota’s last 33 games are the toughest in the Western Conference based on schedule strength. Now until the All-Star break at the end of February is one hell of a grind.
Nightmare Road begins Wednesday in New Orleans before returning to Minneapolis on Friday night for a showdown with the Grizzlies. Then Sacramento is at the Target Center on Saturday and Monday, followed by the Warriors around town on Wednesday.
Orlando is terrible but a difficult matchup given his size. They’re on the menu next Friday (Feb. 4), followed by a home/away clash against Denver the following Sunday and Tuesday.
Still out of breath? It gets worse.
After back-to-back games against Nikola Jokic, Minnesota will face Walker Kessler and the Jazz on February 8 (the day before the close). Then it’s off to Memphis and Dallas.
So, yes…only one (!) of the next 11 games (Orlando) is one where Minnesota is the undeniable favorite where they are expected to win. You know, just like they were expected to beat Houston, Detroit (twice) and the Heat.
“You are what you keep doing, right? And we keep struggling with these kinds of games. Of course, focus has to be part of the problem,” said Timberwolves boss Chris Finch on Monday. “These are games that your opponents who you are chasing around the table tend not to (lose). But we have the ability to beat anyone and we have the ability to lose to anyone. And that was evident all season long. This is an immature trait.”
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