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How Tonight’s Games Impact the Wolves Lottery Odds

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The Wolves not only have the incentive to lose this evening but also should be scoreboard watching the other tankers.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

While the process of the Wolves end of season tanking has been peculiar, the product has been undeniable losing twelve of their last fifteen games. The lack of defense has been glorious for those of us who gave up a month and have been patronizing the wonderfully depressing website tankathon.com.

As you can see here, the Wolves are currently in a position where they hold a 15 percent chance of a top-3 pick. But the season is not over. The Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic, New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings, and New Orleans Pelicans all have something to play for on this final night of the year. And this, of course, leads to must-watch television.

Three Tank-tastic Games to Watch for Wolves Fans

Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks

What’s at stake for New York?

The 30-win Knicks (one-game ahead of the Wolves) could fall as low as a tie for the seven-slot with their own win and a Timberwolves loss. Both teams would finish with 31 wins in this scenario. In the case of a tie, the tiebreaker rules simply split the odds of the two teams. In the Knicks case, this would mean their odds of a top-3 pick would drop from 21.5 percent to 18.2 percent.

The Knicks have listed Kristaps Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony, and Lance Thomas all as questionable for the game. Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek said all three players are “unlikely” to play.

What’s at stake for Philadelphia?

The 28-win 76ers are in contention with Magic (also 28 wins) for the four-slot in the lottery. If the Sixers can pull off a loss against the Knicks and the Magic win at home against the Detroit Pistons, their odds of a top-3 pick jump to 37.8 percent in the four slot and the Magic’s odds drop to 29.2 percent.

If both the Sixers and Magic lose (or both win) their odds of a top-3 pick are equal at 33.5 percent.

Vegas has the 76ers as 1.5-point favorites in this battle of futility.

Dallas Mavericks at Memphis Grizzlies

What’s at stake for Dallas?

The 32-win Mavs (one-game behind the Wolves) have ample incentive to lose as they are tied with the Kings for the eight-slot in the lottery and are one game ahead of the Pelicans who currently sit in the ten-slot.

With a loss and Wolves win the Mavs could fall into a tie for the seven-slot, which would give them a 12.5 percent chance at a top-3 pick. If the Mavs win they could raise up into a tie for the ten-slot, dropping their odds of a top-3 pick as low as 5 percent. Organizationally, the Mavs recognize this incentive and are not playing Dirk Nowitzki, Harrison Barnes, Wesley Matthews, and Seth Curry.

What’s at stake for Memphis?

Nothing. They are locked into the 7-seed and a first round matchup against the San Antonio Spurs. This Grizzlies rested Zach Randolph on Sunday and are likely to do so again tonight, he may be joined with other rotation pieces.

Vegas had the Grizzlies as a 9-point before knowledge of the Mavs players who will rest.

Sacramento Kings at Los Angeles Clippers

What’s at stake for Sacramento?

The 32-win Kings (one-game behind the Wolves) are in the same boat as the Mavs. With a Wolves win, their top-3 lottery odds could go as high as 12.5 percent. With a win, their odds could drop as low as 5 percent. Darren Collison, Tyreke Evans, Arron Afflalo, and Kosta Koufos all rested Tuesday night and will at most play sparingly this evening.

What’s at stake for Los Angeles?

A lot. The Clippers know they are locked into a matchup against the Utah Jazz in the first round, but tonight’s game will determine home-court advantage in that series. If the Clippers beat the Kings, they will have the advantage in the first round.

Vegas has the Clippers as 15.5-point favorites. How do people bet on this stuff?

The Timberwolves Odds

Best Case: If the Wolves lose and the Knicks win. (Tie for six and seven-slot)

1st: 5.3 percent

2nd: 6.0 percent

3rd: 7.0 percent

Top-3: 18.3 percent

6th: 22.0 percent

7th: 45.2 percent

8th: 13.6 percent

9th: 10 percent

If the Wolves lose and the Knicks lose. (seven-slot)

1st: 4.3 percent

2nd: 4.9 percent

3rd: 5.8 percent

Top-3: 15.0 percent

7th- 59.9 percent

8th- 23.2 percent

9th- 1.8 percent

If the Wolves win and both the Mavs and Kings win. (seven-slot)

1st: 4.3 percent

2nd: 4.9 percent

3rd: 5.8 percent

Top-3: 15.0 percent

7th- 59.9 percent

8th- 23.2 percent

9th- 1.8 percent

If the Wolves win and only on of the Mavs or Kings win. (tie for seven and eight-slot)

1st: 3.5 percent

2nd: 4.1 percent

3rd: 4.9 percent

Top-3: 12.5 percent

7th: 30 percent

8th: 47.8 percent

9th: 9.3 percent

10th: 0.4 percent

Worst Case: If the Wolves win and the Mavs and Kings both lose. (tie for seven, eight, and nine-slot)

1st: 2.9 percent

2nd: 3.4 percent

3rd: 4.0 percent

Top-3: 10.3 percent

7th: 20.0 percent

8th: 31.9 percent

9th: 33.3 percent

10th: 4.3 percent

11th: 0.1 percent


That’s a lot of numbers. The Spark Notes version: Losing tonight would be good for the Wolves. A loss tonight increases the odds of a top-3 pick as high as 18.3 percent. A win could drop the odds of a top-3 pick as low as 10.3 percent. In a draft with more top-end talent than any draft in years, the stakes are high or at least worth following.

Where you at Mark Madsen?