You are Cordially Invited to....Minnesota!

You are Cordially Invited…Save the Date!


 By Winter

Minneapolis – This year, the Minnesota Timberwolves are playing at least 82 basketball games… You are invited to watch the biggest events of the T-Wolves season with them! Let’s go over some of the Wolves’ biggest games this year.

Nov 17 vs PHI

Key match-up: Karl Anthony Towns vs. Philadelphia’s front court

Last year, Jahill Okafor split the season series against the man picked right above him. Karl Anthony-Towns, however, did not play his best against Okafor and saw himself get into some foul trouble. With Philly on the rise, this should be an intriguing match-up between Towns and Okafor, and even other big men that Philly has stashed away. Saric, Noel, and Embiid could all play against Towns, too. This is also the Wolves’ first nationally televised game, courtesy of TNT, so it should be a great point to reflect on Minnesota’s first ten games. I did a retrospective of Towns’ first ten games, last year, and this might be an opportune time to revisit how he is doing one year later!

 

Dec 8 @ TOR

Key story line: Andrew Wiggins visits home-town Drakes

Another year, and another visit to lovely Toronto for Minnesota. It will be Wiggins third time visiting his home country to play basketball, and each time has felt like a special game. With Toronto being an up and coming team with aspirations of championships floating through their heads, this should be a great measuring stick to see how Minnesota fares against solid competition. DeMarr Derozan and Kyle Lowry will provide a nice 2-man match-up problem for Zach Lavine and either Ricky Rubio or Kris Dunn. I see a little Lowry in Dunn’s game. Chill, fam.

 

Dec 11 vs GSW

Revenge game?: GSW, if you recall, lost to Minnesota in Oakland late last year which effectively prevented them from reaching 73 wins one game earlier. It didn’t make a difference in the end, but the last memories of Minnesota the not-champion-Golden State Warriors have is a scrappy young team straight beating them at home. GSW will still likely win the season-series against Minnesota, but will their first game in the Twin Cities be circled on the schedule? I think so.

 

 

Dec 13 @ CHI

1 Big Thing: Tom Thibodeau returns to Chicago, Jimmy Butler and Wiggins square off (okay, two things), Rondo chums with old finals pal, KG (So, three, sue me).

The big story here is coach Thibs seeing his old stomping ground again. Plus Dwyane Wade, Butler and Rajon Rondo get to play a team that also cannot shoot the ball. I always like seeing a game in Chicago, and maybe this year we can all road trip to the windy city!

 

Dec 25 @ OKC

All I want for Christmas is….: A Wolves victory in OKC against the Durantless Thunder. Which will only make OKC slightly less dangerous. Because when Westbrook is rolling down the lane, striking the rim with ferocity, zapping passes across the court, and the crowd shaking the arena with their collective voices, the Thunder is a dangerous team. It is also the Wolves’ first Christmas Day game and I expect to see them pumped to play against a premier Western Conference opponent when everyone else is chillin’ at home anyway.

Deer Santa, All I want for Kristymas is Miinnesnowta to beet Oklahoma! Kan U brig me a KAT?

 

Jan 7 vs UTA

Key Match-up: Two teams on the verge of breaking through.

Utah has many pundits raving about their potential this year. They have a stacked core, young players with real talent, and a starting-five that looks like it can hang with the best. Utah will likely roll out a George Hill, Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson, Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors lineup where Gordon can switch to the 3 and Alec Burks, or Rodney Hood play the 2. Both capable players. They picked up veteran Boris Diaw from San Antone’ and have a solid backup PG with Dante Exum (who missed last year with a torn ACL). Minnesota matches up well with Utah, and I expect a really fun series between these two teams during the year. This match-up is selected because it is the last home game in Minny. Mark it down!

 

Feb 1 @ CLE

Key Matchup: Wiggins and LeBron.

It doesn’t take much bending of the word to get a pulse here. LeBron and Wiggins have a minor beef with each other. Wiggins wants to show people that CLE made a big mistake in trading him. He plays his best against the Cavs and this is another year, another nationally televised game, to play this hype up more. LeBron is still the man. Come on, Wolves, show the champs you can throw it down with the best.

 

 

Mar 21 vs SAS

Key Match-up: Can the Spurs dissect Minnesota like they do every year?

I have personally watched Spurs/Wolves at the Target Center five or six times. None of which were Minnesota victories. I often witness the Spurs Machine slice and dice the hapless Wolves into flank steaks ready to be grilled and bar-be-queued. This year, I expect Thibs to strengthen the defense and actually put up a fight! Or will Thibs be turned into a roast mutton, just like the rest of the MN coaching schemes versus San Antonio.

 

Mar 15 @ BOS

Key story line: KG returns to Boston one final time.

Time is not on Kevin Garnett’s side. This may be his last season as an NBA player. He has only this year left on his contract and I would be surprised if he signed a new deal. He can’t stay on the court for long periods of time and his athleticism is declining. He has played in bunches of games at a position that takes a lot of beating over his 20 years. KG won his only championship in Boston. Sadly, the Wolves were never able to get him one despite having a good shot in 2003 and 2004. However, this may be a special day for the Big Ticket as his potentially last game in Beantown. His number will still be retired in ‘Sota, but his legacy as a champion is cemented with Rondo, Allen, Pierce, and Perkins – in the shadow of Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Kevin McHale and company.

 

Apr 11 vs OKC

Key story: Last home game of the 2016/2017 season, will Minnesota be going to the postseason?

A bevy of away games finish the season for Minnesota, however this final home game against Western Conference finalists, the Thunder, will likely hold some meaning for the postseason. OKC appears to be a playoff bound team if all (By all, I mean Westbrook) stays healthy, but they will not be at their usual top two/three spot due to Kevin Durant sliding over to the Warriors. OKC may be in the five, six, or even seven range depending on how well they can play. Will this game mean more for the Thunder? Or will Minnesota actually have a chance to play into a playoff seed this year? The west is competitive!

 

Conservatively, if you take the top four teams in the west…. GSW, SAS, LAC, OKC…. And then consider POR, HOU, MEM, playoff teams from last year…. Which of the remaining teams make it to the playoffs? Utah, Minnesota, New Orleans, Dallas…..Denver, Phoenix, Sacramento, LA Lakers. 

 

The bottom four are long shots for sure, and Dallas is probably in that group as well. New Orleans is itching for playoff basketball, along with Utah, Minnesota. Portland, Houston and Memphis want to continue their postseason aspirations.

The good question is, will there be any parity this year with such a stacked Warriors team lurking in Oakland?

 

Regardless, mark your calendars! Let's go Wolves!