Wolves better win early because after Black Friday the schedule gets nasty

The first 15 games look good on paper, but after Thanksgiving the Wolves have a daunting stretch of games.
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A lot can change from year to year, but the Timberwolves should have a chance to start the season on the right note with what looks like a fairly soft schedule between Wednesday's opener at Memphis and Black Friday in November.

Five of the first seven games are on the road (Memphis, Sacramento, Oklahoma City, Brooklyn, Orlando) with a pair of home games tucked in against Memphis and Denver. Only Memphis and Oklahoma City rank higher in ESPN's preseason power rankings (Minnesota is 12th), and both underwent big changes in the off-season.

OKC lost Kevin Durant and gained Victor Oladipo. Memphis re-signed Mike Conley and added Chandler Parsons, but those two and big man Marc Gasol are coming off injury-shortened seasons.

Sacramento, Brooklyn, Orlando and Denver aren't expected to contend for the playoffs this season.

The next eight games leading up to Black Friday get a little tougher, but not overwhelming.

  • vs. Clippers
  • vs. Lakers
  • vs. Bobcats
  • vs. 76ers
  • @ Grizzlies
  • vs. Celtics
  • @ Pelicans
  • @ Suns

Again, only the Clippers, Grizzlies and Celtics are getting better preseason reviews than Minnesota – and both the Clippers and Celtics games are at Target Center. Plus, the Clippers will be on the second end of a road back-to-back with the Thunder.

Minnesota's only back-to-back dates in the first 15 games are Nov. 8-9 at Brooklyn and Orlando and Nov. 12-13 at home against the Clippers and Lakers.

It's probably critical that Minnesota gets off to a hot start because the stretch of games from late-November into December is brutal.

  • @ Warriors
  • vs. Jazz
  • vs. Knicks
  • @ Knicks
  • @ Bobcats
  • vs. Spurs
  • @ Raptors
  • vs. Pistons
  • vs. Warriors
  • @ Bulls
  • vs. Rockets

Among those teams, only the Knicks are considered a non-play0ff contender – and that might be untrue considering the Eastern Conference is generally weaker than the West.

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