After losing six of their last seven games, the Timberwolves need a win in a bad way. Their newest toughest foe is the Denver Nuggets, who they host tonight at Target Center in their final game before the All-Star break.
At 24-28, the Wolves will need to win 21 of their 30 remaining games to reach the 45 wins President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders believes they'll need to compete for a playoff spot in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
Why they've underachieved this season can be explained in a variety of ways, but none is more obvious than a lack of consistency on the defensive end. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune says the defense wasn't a strength of the team from the start, but injuries to Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin have made it worse over the last few weeks.
“Well, defense has been a concern of ours from Day 1,” said Terry Porter, who filled in for head coach Rick Adelman the last two days (Adelman was away for a personal reason, but will be back on the bench tonight). “When you lose 40 points [from your lineup], and you’re shorthanded, it becomes a tough task.”
Pekovic might be able to return from bursitis in his ankle after the All-Star break, but Martin is expected to miss 2-3 weeks with a broken thumb.
“We’ve been struggling,” forward Corey Brewer said. “But it’s tough when you don’t have your core [players], when you’re without a bunch of your guys. … It’s a struggle. Guys are trying to fit in, do different things. But for us it’s just about getting better.”
Britt Robson of MinnPost writes that Minnesota earned their current spot – seven games out of the eighth and final playoff spot – before the injuries occurred. He says this has been the most disappointing season the Wolves have had in more than a decade.
It doesn't look good, but the Wolves can stop some of the bleeding tonight against Denver.