Wolves need flurry of wins to finish February to have any hope of making the playoffs

The final 20 games of the season are extremely difficult.
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Fifty-two games into the season and the Wolves still haven't won more than three games in a row. 

The up-and-down nature of their season reeks of a .500 team and a spot on the couch during the playoffs, but a big push in a very winnable stretch of games this month would do them well as they fight for the playoffs over the final 30 games of the season. 

Here's a reasonable way to break down the rest of the month. 

The next three... 

Minnesota is a terrible 8-17 on the road this season, but they really need to win the next three.

  • Feb. 5 - at Memphis
  • Feb. 7 - at Orlando
  • Feb. 8 - at New Orleans

Memphis isn't as good at home (12-14) as they've been in past seasons and even though they've historically given the Wolves problems, Minnesota is a better team and should win – especially if Robert Covington (bruised ankle) returns to action for the first time since Dec. 31. 

Orlando stinks and New Orleans could wind up trading Anthony Davis, Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle before this week's Feb. 7 trade deadline. Even if the trio isn't traded, all three are battling injuries and might not be ready to play. 

Two tough home games

The next two are at Target Center, which should be good for at least one victory. 

  • Feb. 11 - vs. Los Angeles Clippers
  • Feb. 13 - vs. Houston

The Clippers are currently eighth in the Western Conference playoff race, three-and-a-half games ahead of Minnesota. The Rockets have won 19 of 27 games since starting the season 11-15, and leading the way is MVP candidate James Harden and his insane streak of 26 consecutive games with at least 30 points. 

Five games in seven days to finish the month

It'll be busy, but most of the final five games of the month should favor the Wolves winning. 

  • Feb. 22 - at New York
  • Feb. 23 - at Milwaukee
  • Feb. 25 - vs. Sacramento
  • Feb. 27 - at Atlanta
  • Feb. 28 - at Indiana

With all due respect to the Knicks, Kings, Hawks and Pacers, the Wolves should beat them all while likely struggling to get out of Milwaukee with a win against the Eastern Conference-leading Bucks. 

The game in Milwaukee will be the second night of a back-to-back for the Wolves, and the Bucks are 22-4 at home. 

The Kings, a team two games ahead of the Wolves, is a lot like Minnesota in that they're tough at home and sub-.500 on the road (11-15). Minnesota should win that game at Target Center. 

The Hawks aren't good and the Pacers, although one of the top four teams in the East entering play Sunday, have lost four of five since losing All-Star Victor Oladipo to a season-ending knee injury. 

When the calendar turns to March... 

The Wolves have an ugly history of failing to beat the teams they're supposed to, so it's probably wishful thinking to believe they're capable of going 8-2 or better to finish February. 

Maybe it's unlikely, but it's damn near necessary because the rest of the season is a nightmare. 

Minnesota plays 20 games from March through the end of the regular season on April 10, and 14 of them are against current playoff teams: Thunder (twice), Nuggets (twice), Jazz, Rockets, Warriors (twice), Hornets, Clippers, 76ers, Trail Blazers, Heat and Raptors. 

The good news here is that nine of those 14 games against current playoff-bound teams are at Target Center, but it's still a steep hill to climb. 

Big picture: Minnesota's playoff chances aren't great – 8.4 percent, according to ESPN – but their odds increase a little bit if they finish February with a flurry of victories. 

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