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Wolves Weekly Review: Hot at Home

The Timberwolves can’t lose at home, Shabazz wants out and more.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Minnesota Timberwolves Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Target Center has been the least intimidating arena for opposing NBA teams the last few years. Obviously, the biggest reason for that is the team’s performance on the court. That shows through in the attendance numbers.

Minnesota ranked 29th, 29th, 28th and 27th in attendance and has accumulated a 67-97 total home record in the four seasons prior to 2017-18. Nobody could be blamed for calling the Timberwolves the NBA’s laughingstock, because that’s what they were.

The 2017-18 season signals a giant shift in Timberwolves franchise history. New uniforms, new arena renovations, new superstar players — a new era.

An added bonus has been newfound success at Target Center. This season’s Timberwolves are 22-6 at home following Saturday night’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans. That’s now 12 straight home wins — a streak that started on Dec. 18.

“Our fans are amazing,” Karl-Anthony Towns said. “ I just think that we’re executing at a high level when we’re here at home. Defensively we’re really good and offensively we usually never have problems.”

The Timberwolves are 23rd in home attendance this season at 16,585 fans per game, which isn’t groundbreaking by any means. But it’s a significant improvement over the last season -- over 2,000 more fans per home game.

Minnesota’s next step in its “New Era” agenda is winning a playoff series. The 12-game home winning streak has shed light on how dominant the Wolves can be with the home-court advantage — which makes maintaining a No. 4 seed (or better) in the Western Conference a high priority.

Exactly half of Minnesota’s 26 remaining games will be at Target Center. If the Timberwolves can continue to handle home games and play .500 ball (or better, preferably), home-court advantage for a playoff series becomes very feasible.

Shabazz Muhammad Wants Out

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday that Timberwolves forward Shabazz Muhammad wants out before Thursday’s trade deadline.

Muhammad has gradually been washed out of the rotation thanks to repetitive defensive mistakes and a league-worst -5.49 RPM (out of 479 players). Marcus Georges-Hunt’s defensive presence has provided a spark in the wing bench role that Muhammad used to occupy.

Few expected the Timberwolves to make any noise during this trade deadline season, but this might be the catalyst for some kind of move. The next step is finding a market for Muhammad’s services, which may prove to be difficult. Attaching the Oklahoma City first-round pick in a trade might be the only way Minnesota could complete a trade to fulfill Muhammad’s request.

Stopping Losing Streaks Before They Start

The Timberwolves are now 7-0 in games following two straight losses this season after Thursday’s win over Milwaukee. Four of those wins have been by double digits and the average margin of victory in all seven games is 11.

Tweet Of The Week

Awarding this to the Minnesota Timberwolves official social media team may ruffle some feathers, but the tweet deserves it, right?

Clip Of The Week

This would’ve been a heck of a lot cooler if the Vikings were actually playing in the Super Bowl. But, alas, it’s still pretty freaking cool.

Weekly Grade

Minnesota began the week with back-to-back road losses, one of which against arguably the NBA’s worst team in Atlanta. Blame who you want to blame for how that game ended, but Minnesota realistically shouldn’t be in a nail biter with the Hawks in the first place.

The Timberwolves responded brilliantly with two easy home wins, never giving either opponent much of a chance from tip off. In some ways, this week is a microcosm of the season so far -- medicore-to-sometimes-bad basketball on the road (12-16 on the season) and superb play at Target Center.


What’s Next

Minnesota faces a brief two-game road trip this week beginning with a trip to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers. Cleveland has been reeling since getting wiped by Minnesota at Target Center on Jan. 8, having lost 12 of its last 17 games — and many of them by enormous deficits.

The Timberwolves will then travel to Chicago for what could essentially be called a family reunion as Tom Thibodeau, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Aaron Brooks, Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn all face their former teams. LaVine has played 10 games this season since returning from a torn ACL, averaging 14.5 points per game on 38% shooting and 38% from three-point range.