As has been outlined by several people here, the Timberwolves have a rooting interest in Utah making the playoffs. If everything goes right on Wednesday, things could look a lot brighter. In order to make the playoffs, Utah might need to finish 6-2 in their last eight games to end up 36-30, but looking over their schedule, that may be possible if they can knock off the Rockets. Houston has been playing well recently, but if they close the season 4-5, they also have a 36-30 record. If Utah loses this one, it could be over, but if they win in Houston on Wednesday, they get the tie-breaker vs. the Rockets. Three other key matchups will also take place on Wednesday night.
Get well Rubio! If everything falls into place, maybe we can get you the help you need...
How many owners/fans lament their GMs not knowing anything about advanced statistics and letting Faried pass them by--we're looking at you Mr. Kahn.
First, the Wolves are playing at Denver. I'd give the Nuggets an edge in this matchup, but Denver was one of the last two teams Minnesota defeated. Utah already has the tie-breaker vs. Denver, so if Minnesota can defeat Denver in either of their two remaing games versus the Nuggets(MN hosts Denver for the last game of their regular season), it could really help Utah make the playoffs and get the Wolves a ticket to play in the 1st round of this year's draft. Houston also plays Denver twice down the stretch. If either Houston or Denver falter, Utah could move into the playoffs. Other than the 2 games vs. MN and one game vs. Phoenix, every game Denver has remaining will be against a team currently in the playoffs. If they go 5-4, they end up 36-30, but would lose the Utah tie-breaker if Utah can close the season on the 6-2 run we're hoping for from them.
Secondly, Phoenix has a road game vs. Memphis. I would give the Grizzlies an advantage in this matchup. They are playing well recently and they are at home. Phoenix losing would get Utah one notch closer to the playoffs. Phoenix owns the tie-breaker vs. Utah, but this would give Utah a 1/2 game lead over Phoenix and the Suns travel to Utah for their second to last game of the season. Utah will clearly need that to be a victory. Phoenix has been playing well recently, but they only face 1 team under .500 for the remainder of the season. Even if they go 5-4, which would be pretty good vs. their schedule, they would finish 35-31.
The Final matchup has nothing to do with Utah, the Wolves, or the Western Conference, but Wednesday's game for the Bucks vs. the Knicks will decide who has the tie-breaker between the 2 teams. If Milwaukee wins, they move to the 8th playoff spot. If the Knicks win, they will be up 2 games and own the tie-breaker. The game is in Milwaukee and should be a battle. I'll be cheering for Milwaukee. Drew Gooden supplied one of the more shocking triple-doubles this season and has been putting up surprisingly good numbers at the center position. The Monta Ellis/Ekpe Udoh deal gave them the scoring option they needed along with a nice bench defender. The Bucks were 5 games under .500 when the deal was made, but they will move to .500 and put themselves into the 8th seed with a victory here. They have now started recovering from Redd and Bogut breaking down and I'd like to see them knock off the Knicks and build some excitement with a playoff series even if they will be overmatched once they get there.
Gooden, here looking like he's preparing for a facepalm, referred to himself as Tragic Johnson following his triple-double.
In other news, the Lakers are playing at San Antonio and the Clippers are playing at OKC, but those headliner games don't mean nearly as much to Wolves fans as the games I mentioned above. The chances of all 4 games breaking the way I'd like are probably 1000-1, but there's always a chance and it should be a good night for scoreboard watching.