NBA Minnesota Timberwolves

5 Upcoming Must-Win Games For Minnesota Timberwolves

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5 Teams the Minnesota Timberwolves Need to Beat

Mark D. Smith - USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves have played well this season despite their current sub-.500 record. They’ve lost close games against tough opponents and blown out some weaker ones and are tied for fifth with the Oklahoma City Thunder in point differential in the Western Conference (good for seventh in the entire NBA). Playoff seeding isn’t determined by point differential, though, and the Wolves are currently two games back from the Golden State Warriors for the eighth seed. If the Wolves can make some wins out of their impressive play, they should earn a playoff spot this year, but that will mean winning some key victories.

The Timberwolves have struggled against good teams this year. They beat the Dallas Mavericks and blew out the Thunder early in the season, but they haven’t beaten another probable Western Conference playoff team this year. They will need to win games against good teams to make the playoffs and especially if they want to make any sort of impact once they’re there.

They will also need to win games against weaker opponents, though, and the Timberwolves will finally get to play some games against some of the worst teams in the NBA after a difficult seven-game stretch against all likely playoff teams. They have only lost to one sub-.500 team so far this year, and even that team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, stands a chance to make the Eastern Conference playoffs, but still, they must avoid playing down to lower levels of competition. These are five upcoming games the Timberwolves must win if they want to make the playoffs this year.

Nick Guenther is an NBA Writer for Follow him on twitter @nickynicknickk or add him to your network on Google .

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5. Los Angeles Clippers

Brace Hemmelgarn - USA TODAY Sports

The Timberwolves have lost two heartbreakingly close games to the Los Angeles Clippers this year. They’ll face the Clippers again Dec. 22 and will look to get revenge. The Clippers will almost certainly make the playoffs and could potentially matchup with the Wolves depending on how both teams do, so getting the win here is important.

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4. Los Angeles Lakers

Jayne Kamin-Oncea

The Timberwolves blew out the Los Angeles Lakers when they played in November, but the Lakers they’ll face Dec. 20 will be drastically different thanks to the return of Kobe Bryant. The Lakers currently sit a half game ahead of the Timberwolves in the Western Conference standings, and will be one of a few teams battling the Wolves for the last few playoff spots in the West.

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3. Memphis Grizzlies

Jesse Johnson - USA TODAY Sports

Injured Memphis Grizzlies star Marc Gasol won’t be back on Dec. 15 when the Grizzlies take on the Timberwolves. The Wolves will need to take advantage of this and win, as the Grizzlies are another team who sit just outside the playoffs right now, but will do everything to get in.

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2. Philadelphia 76ers

Howard Smith - USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers have surprised some of the league’s best teams and earned some upset victories. The Timberwolves need to be careful against the team everyone expected to be the worst in the league. Rookie Michael Carter-Williams has looked amazing, and Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes are suddenly outstanding players in the 76ers' wide-open offense.

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1. New Orleans Pelicans

Derick E. Hingle - USA TODAY Sports

Like the Lakers, the New Orleans Pelicans currently sit at .500, just half a game above the Timberwolves and a game and a half below the Warriors for the eighth seed. The Wolves play them for the first time this season on New Year’s Day, and by then Anthony Davis may or may not have returned from his broken hand. If he is still injured, the Wolves must take advantage of his absence and win. If he plays, the Wolves must win too, as the Wolves and Pelicans will be competing for a playoff spot all year.