The Timberwolves are off to a rough start in their crucial four-game homestand. Through three games they've lost two, one to the lowly Knicks and another to the streaking Raptors. The slow start has Tuesday's game against the NBA-worst Milwaukee Bucks in the "must-win" category.
At 31-31, Minnesota has just 20 games to close a five-game gap between the Grizzlies and Suns in a battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It doesn't look good, but they also play the Bobcats and Kings this week, so they have a chance to close some ground if Memphis and Phoenix falter as well.
Here's the power rankings roundup.
NBA.COM: No. 16 – They made a nice little run after the break, but Wednesday's wire-to-wire loss to the Knicks made it OK to throw dirt on the Wolves' playoff chances. They're 4-11 on the second night of back-to-backs and will play six more over the final month of the season. Their starting lineup has been pretty ridiculous offensively since the break, but their bench (J.J. Barea in particular) has continued to struggle.
ESPN: No. 16 – No team in circulation is harder to rank. They've ridden a 7-3 surge to hold firm at .500. That oft-discussed nightly point differential (plus-3.9) continues to suggest they're one of the league's top 10 teams. But what do you do when you know the Wolves have little to no shot of snagging a playoff spot?
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: No. 17 – Home losses to the Raptors and Knicks make the Wolves' playoff hopes just that -- hopes. Trailing No. 8 Memphis and Phoenix by five games, they need a perfect run this week against three losing opponents to stay in the hunt.
YAHOO SPORTS: No. 15 – Minnesota's already bleak playoff hopes in the West became dimmer after it dropped the first two games of a four-game homestand.
CBS SPORTS: No. 16 – Nobody's turning off life-support machines yet, but it's probably time to start saying goodbye to the playoffs this season.
PRO BASKETBALL TALK: No. 16 – When the Timberwolves get their starting five on the court —Ricky Rubio, Corey Brewer, Kevin Martin, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic — they are +11.7 per 48 minutes. Get into their bench and it’s a mess. That’s not good enough to make the playoffs in the West, and Minnesota is all but mathematically out of that race.