Sunday's blowout loss to Ricky Rubio and the Jazz knocked the Wolves from 5th to 7th in the playoff race and in a position of vulnerability with the Nuggets breathing down their neck.
Minnesota also has to worry about the Pelicans, but it's the Nuggets that are cause for concern considering they now control their own destiny after back-to-back overtime wins against the Thunder and Bucks.
The Wolves are 1.5 games ahead of Denver, but two of their final four games are head-to-head, and if Denver wins both the end result could lead to a playoff-less season for a 14th straight year.
PlayoffStatus.com puts the odds of it happening at just 5 percent, but in a scenario where the Wolves finish 46-36 (or worse) it's possible. Here's the two things that would need to happen in such a scenario.
– Denver beats Minnesota twice and wins two additional games to finish 47-35, or they beat the Wolves twice and beat Portland next Monday to finish 46-36. In the second scenario they would win the tiebreaker over Minnesota based on a better record within the division.
This would also be required to knock the Wolves from the playoffs.
– New Orleans wins four of its last five games (Grizzlies, Suns, Warriors, Clippers, Spurs) to finish 47-35. A tie with Minnesota isn't good enough because they went 0-4 against the Wolves this season.
The Clippers cannot catch the Wolves if the Wolves reach 46 wins.
So, yeah, the Wolves are still in a pretty good position.
Wolves remaining schedule:
- Thursday, at Nuggets
- Friday, at Lakers
- Monday, vs. Grizzlies
- Wednesday, vs. Nuggets
Nuggets remaining schedule:
- Tuesday, vs. Pacers
- Thursday, vs. Wolves
- Saturday, at Clippers
- Monday, vs. Blazers
- Wednesday, at Wolves
On the flip side, the Wolves are only 1.5 games behind the 4th-place Spurs, although catching them seems less likely even if the Wolves go 4-0 down the stretch to finish 48-34.