What the Minnesota Timberwolves have strung together in the last week has been as impressive as it has been surprising.
It’s a small sample size, sure, but with this franchise, one thing that has been engrained in the fans’ minds over the years is you take the small victories when you can. And their recent success on the court has started to mold a different perception of this young, energetic bunch for Chris Finch.
All of a sudden, there is genuine optimism about their future.
It started with a win over the Utah Jazz on April 24. At the end of the first quarter, the Wolves had yielded 40 points to a team that didn’t have superstar Donovan Mitchell in the lineup. I wouldn’t have blamed you if you flipped the channel after 12 minutes. But at the same time, shame on you. Minnesota held Utah’s potent offense to a staggering 56 points the rest of the game and won by five.
It wasn’t just that they beat the team with the NBA’s best record; it’s that they did it in Salt Lake City. The Wolves have been egregious away from Target Center this year (8-25). Sure the Mitchell was out, but the Jazz were still heavy favorites to come out on top.
It was only fitting that their next game was against, well, the Jazz, a team undoubtedly upset that they just lost to one of the worst teams in the Western Conference on their home floor. Utah was favored by a whopping 10 points on the road. Nobody thought they’d lose to the Wolves twice in a row.
The script has been laid out before. You’ve seen this movie a thousand times. Minnesota follows up an impressive win by laying an egg. It doesn’t matter who it’s against. It could be day or night, weekend or weekday. The Wolves will lose that next game after injecting optimism directly into the veins of the fanbase.
The first quarter was a carbon copy of the first game, and the Jazz led by 16 points after one. Miraculously, Finch’s squad proved the game in Salt Lake City wasn’t a fluke. They came from behind yet again, winning 105-104 on a game-winner from that dude D’Angelo Russell with five seconds left.
When have you ever seen a Timberwolves player emerge that wide open for a game-winner? A literal uncontested layup. Against a top-tier defensive unit in the entire association. It’s always the other way around.
Fine, they beat Utah in back-to-back affairs. The season is still lost, but it’s encouraging to see this team do these things, right?
Side note: If you sprinkled the money line on both of those games, please provide proof of a betting ticket and take all your winnings and pour them all on red or black. Immediately.
Certainly, the two-game winning streak over the top-seeded Jazz had to have the Wolves feeling good about how things were trending as the season winds down. Already being eliminated from playoff contention, one of the lone focuses the rest of the way is finding the good vibes on the court for Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and Russell — a unit that has not shared the court often this year due to injuries. Minnesota’s three superstars are proving it can work.
Schedule-wise, they beat the Jazz twice. Who’s next? The Los Angeles Clippers? Phoenix Suns? Denver Nuggets? May I interest you in a glass of the Houston Rockets — the current owner of the worst record in the NBA at 15-47? To put it in perspective, the Orlando Magic have the second-worst record in the NBA and are 3.5 games clear of the miserable Rockets.
Now, logic and reason dictate that the Wolves just beat the Jazz two games in a row, so they would absolutely win in Houston. But Timberwolves logic and reason sings to a different tune. Everything in the souls of Wolves fans said this would be the one Minnesota drops after two straight over Utah. As stated before, this book has been written before. Now it just adds another wrinkle: Beat the team with the best record twice, only to lose the very next game to the squad with the worst record.
It’s the Timberwolves’ way of life that has driven many to the brink of insanity throughout the years.
Minnesota outscored the Rockets in three of the four frames, winning by a final score of 114-107. It marked their third straight win and put them at 6-4 in their last 10 games. Believe it or not, a win against the worst team in the league came as a pleasant shock to some. And you can’t blame them.
But it’s not all gumdrops and lollipops for the Minnesota Timberwolves. They’re eliminated from playoff contention, have suffered yet another losing season, and will keep their fingers crossed that they secure their first-round pick in the draft next year. However, what they are doing down the stretch run of this season can catapult them into next year with an abundance of confidence that seems genuine. We have concrete evidence that they can be good for the first time in quite a while.