The Minnesota Timberwolves are not yet mathematically eliminated from making the playoffs this year, but it’s really only a matter of time with the regular season winding down. Wednesday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies was the first in a stretch of April games against playoff contenders, so the Timberwolves have a chance to play a significant role in how the Western Conference playoff picture looks in a couple weeks.
The Timberwolves put together one of their most well-rounded efforts of the season in a 102-88 victory over the Grizzlies, with Kevin Love posting his third triple-double of the season (24 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists) and his second in the last week. The backcourt duo of Kevin Martin (21 points) and Ricky Rubio (14 points, seven assists, three steals and three rebounds) came up with strong efforts, and the center duo of Gorgui Dieng (eight points and nine rebounds) and Ronny Turiaf (11 points and seven rebounds) filled in capably for an injured Nikola Pekovic (ankle) and helped Minnesota out-rebound Memphis 46-38.
Without any realistic chance to make the playoffs, the Timberwolves are left with one goal this season-finish .500 or better for the first time since the 2004-2005 season. They went 44-38 that season, which may be best remembered for current president of basketball operations Flip Saunders being fired as coach after 51 games.
The Timberwolves are now 37-37 after Wednesday night’s win, which is their highest win total since that ’04-’05 season, and five of their final eight games will come against teams that have something to play for in terms of playoff positioning as things sit right now. But if they can put together another strong effort on Friday night, against a Miami Heat team that has multiple key players banged up, that momentum could carry the Timberwolves right to the 42-win benchmark that would make this season a relative success.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.