Where: Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota
When: 7:00 pm CST (TV coverage on TNT)
Why: Because after five days without Wolves basketball, we are all going through withdrawals.
It’s March 8th and the Minnesota Timberwolves are facing a must-win situation.
When’s the last time you can remember the above sentence being a real thing? Despite having their most wins at this period of the season since 2004, the Wolves come into tonight in desperate need of a victory. How is that possible? Well, primarily because the “wild, wild west” has never been wilder:
Top four seeds in the West have won a combined 39 straight games— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 7, 2018
1. Rockets: 16 straight
2. Warriors: 6 straight
3. Blazers: 8 straight
4. Pelicans: 9 straight
While the Rockets and Warriors continue to be the class of not only the Western Conference but also the NBA in general, the Blazers and Pelicans have stormed out of the gates as of late led by MVP-level play from their franchise players.
As for the Wolves franchise player (Jimmy Butler), he is still sidelined with a knee injury he suffered a few weeks back against the Houston Rockets. Losing Butler couldn’t have come at a worse time, as the Wolves are one of only two teams in the top eleven in the Western Conference with a losing record (4-6; the other being the 3-7 San Antonio Spurs).
With that said, the Celtics clearly are no slouch themselves, boasting the 2nd best record in the Eastern Conference. As if the Wolves needed more bad luck, All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving is likely to return from a one game absence due to a knee injury, giving the Celtics even more firepower on the offensive end.
Squaring off against a team led by Brad Stevens and two All-Stars doesn’t necessarily scream “must win,” but considering the Wolves upcoming slough of games (Golden State, at Washington, at San Antonio, Houston, Los Angeles Clippers), the Wolves best shot at regaining some sort of traction amidst the slipper standings may well be when they are well-rested and at home.
(For those of you still clinging to optimism like I am, after completing the gauntlet of a schedule described above, the Wolves finish the season with only one of their remaining ten games against current playoff teams).
“And now, your starting lineups!”
Expected Starting Lineups
PG - Jeff Teague
SG - Andrew Wiggins
SF - Nemanja Bjelica
PF - Taj Gibson
C - Karl-Anthony Towns
PG - Kyrie Irving
SG - Jaylen Brown
SF - Jayson Tatum
PF - Al Horford
C - Aaron Baynes
Timberwolves: Jimmy Butler (knee) is OUT.
Celtics: Kyrie Irving (knee) is PROBABLY and Gordon Hayward (leg) is OUT.
It should be a great night of nationally-televised basketball, with the Wolves/Celtics as the opening act followed by the Warriors at the Spurs. Buckle up for what should be not only a wild night, but a wild next few weeks in the Association.
Prediction: Wolves 111, Celtics 107