The Minnesota Timberwolves are entering the most important stretch of games not just of the season, but in the franchise’s last 13 seasons.
And they’re on a three-game losing streak.
The Timberwolves remain in sixth in the Western Conference. However, their standing could drop four spots in a matter of a few days. Minnesota is only 1.5 games ahead of 10th-place Utah.
The Golden State Warriors are coming to town Sunday — not exactly what the Wolves need right now. Following the Golden State game, the Wolves have games against Washington, San Antonio and Houston. Not ideal.
While the regular season schedule ends with a slate of winnable games, failing to steal a win in one of the next four games could drop the Wolves out of the playoff picture as soon as next Sunday.
These four games represent an opportunity for Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins to prove their worth as franchise players. More importantly, this stretch represents an opportunity for head coach Tom Thibodeau to win back some approval from fans.
Thibodeau’s reputation has taken a tumble throughout the season, despite the team’s position for the playoffs. Outside of the Jimmy Butler acquisition, player development is not evident on the Wolves. Butler’s absence has shed light on how little progress has been made under Thibodeau.
Additionally, the addition of Derrick Rose is displeasing for a number of reasons that aren’t just related to basketball.
Minnesota is free falling during its most important stretch of games in recent memory. If Thibodeau can’t lead this team to the playoffs and Towns and Wiggins continue to show minute development, the direction of the franchise will need to be examined.
The end of the free fall could end today against Golden State. I wouldn’t call it must-win territory yet, but it’s very close.