I’m afraid to write this post about the Timberwolves.
Two Mondays ago, Minnesota busted out a pretty classic loss at Atlanta. The Wolves led by 19, then gave up a second-half run to the Hawks, including a 19-minute stretch in which they were somehow outscored 60-20, and ended up losing by 14. I was pretty down on the Wolves, and coach Chris Finch, after the game, and I was hardly the only one.
Since then, the Wolves have:
1) Destroyed Denver, at home, becoming the only team this season to beat the Nuggets, and doing it by 21; 2) Handling a terrible Utah team, winning by 28; 3) Beaten Boston, at home, in overtime, becoming the first team to beat the Celtics all year; 4) Run away from New Orleans, with the Pelicans missing half a basketball team due to injuries, with relative ease.
Not only is that four straight wins, it’s two each of two types of wins: both impressive wins over good teams, and reasonably routine wins against bad teams.
Last year’s Wolves couldn’t pull that off. Last year’s Wolves had a decent record against the league’s best - they went 14-13 against the other seven West playoff teams, and 8-8 against the top eight in the East - but were terrible against the league’s worst. Against the four teams in the league that lost 55 or more games, Minnesota managed to go just 5-7, including losing 2/2 against 17-65 Detroit and 2/2 to 27-55 Charlotte.
Even more impressive than the wins, too, is that the Wolves have an actual swagger about them - especially defensively, where they’re the number-one team in the NBA by a wide margin. Minnesota is giving up 100.1 points per 100 possessions; second-place New York is closer to 11th place than they are to Minnesota.
So far, the Wolves are actually defending the three-point line, and woe betide the opposing offense that attempts to get to the basket. They’re actually rebounding well (fourth in defensive rebound percentage) and no team is forcing opponents into a worse shooting percentage.
Not to mention, they’re putting on an offensive show, too.
Are you excited yet, Wolves fans? (shoots double thumbs up)
(Lowers voice to speak to people who’ve been Wolves fans for decades) Okay, everybody, are you panicking yet?
This current string of panic began in the second half against Denver - I was sending texts like “they’re up by 22 against the champs, this is the worst, how can they do this to us” - and hasn’t really let up since. Star Trib columnist/guru Patrick Reusse is fond of saying of the Wolves, “Even when they do the right thing, it’s the wrong thing,” and there’s no better way to sum the entire franchise up than that.
Things will always go wrong for the Wolves, and when they go right, that just means they’re about to go wrong.
So yeah, I’ve been afraid to write this post about the Wolves. Like Wile E. Coyote after he runs off a cliff, it feels like the most dangerous thing is to take stock of the current situation.
I can only assume that Victor Wenbanyama will score 100 points on Friday, and six Timberwolves players will be lost for the season due to shell shock.
WHAT’S ON TAP
WILD at New York Rangers, 6pm, BSN
WILD at Buffalo, 6pm, BSN
WOLVES at San Antonio, 7pm, BSN
VIKINGS vs New Orleans, noon, FOX
WILD vs Dallas, 5pm, BSN
WOLVES at Golden State, 7:30pm, BSN