After starting the 2013-14 NBA season 3-0 and looking like a potential force in the league this year, the Minnesota Timberwolves started slipping. On Nov. 25, the Wolves dropped to 8-8 after a loss to the Indiana Pacers and, until Wednesday night, that was the last time that Minnesota had been above .500 on the year.
With a 88-77 win in an ugly game against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Wolves moved to 23-22 on the year and are now just two games out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference. However, the task that now lies ahead of Minnesota is to stay above .500 and to stay in the mix for making the postseason.
Minnesota has an interesting slate of games on the horizon. Four of their next seven games are against teams that would make the postseason if the regular season concluded today while they also have a matchup with the surging Memphis Grizzlies and another matchup with the Pelicans, this one going down in New Orleans.
It’s clear that the Wolves starters have been readily up to the task of succeeding this season with the play of guys like Kevin Love, Kevin Martin and the banged up Nikola Pekovic. However, as has been widely discussed, this team’s success largely hinges on the performance of their bench going forward.
The Wolves’ bench doesn’t have to be a dominant force, but they have to do their part going forward. It would be great for this team to get Chase Budinger going and to see guys like Ronny Turiaf and J.J. Barea step up occasionally as well. There’s also the possibility of a trade to consider, as well. All in all, though, we’ll have to see how far the Wolves can go now that they’re above .500 and if their bench will rise up or let them down.