Maybe the Timberwolves are who they are and they'll continuing their inconsistent ways, but if head coach Tom Thibodeau can find a way to get this team on a roll, now is the time.
According to NBA.com, the Wolves have the second easiest schedule in the Western Conference in January. They play 15 games and nine of them are at home. They play on back-to-back nights just once while their opponents will meet Minnesota on the second night of a back-to-back four times. Nine games are against teams at or below .500 and no team in the West will play as many bad defensive teams as the Wolves.
Meanwhile, the teams Minnesota is chasing for the eighth seed in the West, with the exception of the Lakers, have very tough January schedules.
- Kings (3rd hardest)
- Nuggets (6th hardest)
- Pelicans (4th hardest)
- Lakers (6th easiest)
- Wolves (2nd easiest)
Entering play Tuesday, the Wolves are only 3 1/2 games behind the eighth-place Kings.
But look closely, are Minnesota's 14 remaining games this month really that easy?
- Jan. 3 - at Philadelphia (8-24 overall, 5-14 at home)
- Jan. 6 - at Washington (16-17 overall, 13-6 at home)
- Jan. 7 - vs. Utah (22-13 overall, 10-6 on the road)
- Jan. 9 - vs. Dallas (10-24 overall, 4-15 on the road)
- Jan. 11 - vs. Houston (27-9 overall, 13-6 on the road)
- Jan. 13 - vs. Oklahoma City (21-14 overall, 8-8 on the road)
- Jan. 15 - at Dallas (10-24 overall, 6-9 at home)
- Jan. 17 - at San Antonio (27-7 overall, 11-4 at home)
- Jan. 19 - at L.A. Clippers (23-14 overall, 12-6 at home)
- Jan. 22 - vs. Denver (14-20 overall, 7-11 on the road)
- Jan. 24 - at Phoenix (10-25 overall, 4-16 on the road)
- Jan. 26 - vs. Indiana (17-18 overall, 4-13 on the road)
- Jan. 28 - vs. Brooklyn (8-25 overall, 1-16 on the road)
- Jan. 30 - vs. Orlando (16-20 overall, 9-9 on the road)
Notice how it doesn't get "easy" until the end of the month with games against Denver, Phoenix, Indiana, Brooklyn and Orlando.
Thibodeau and company have their work cut out for them over the next nine games. In fact, they're going to be incredibly difficult to win with the exceptions (maybe) of Philadelphia and two games against Dallas. Here's why:
- Washington has won eight straight at home and John Wall is on fire
- Utah is a top four team in the West and Derrick Favors is getting healthier
- Houston and Oklahoma City have already beaten the Wolves twice
- The Spurs are the Spurs
- The Clippers have lost six of seven but Chris Paul will be back from injury by Jan. 19
Fun fact: The Wolves are 9-11 in games they've had a double-digit lead this season. If they stop blowing big leads they'll have a much better shot at ending a 12-year playoff drought.