Somehow, the Timberwolves will conclude a season series with a team before Christmas Day.
And it isn’t going the way they expected.
Onto their fourth and final game against the Phoenix Suns, the Timberwolves are currently down 2-1 in the season series, despite both losses being completely avoidable.
The first loss came because of a pair of 35-point performances by T.J. Warren and Devin Booker. It was before the point in the season when the Wolves were without Jeff Teague and Nemanja Bjelica – the latter is still expected to be out Saturday – but a bad fourth quarter with a 10-man rotation still cost the Wolves the game.
The second loss – which came after a slightly uncomfortable win in late November – came exactly a week prior to Saturday’s upcoming matchup.
That loss was arguably more frustrating than the first. Devin Booker, their best player by a wide margin, was out with an injury – and still is.
That loss occurred because the Wolves gave up 66 points in the second half, allowed Jay Triano’s bench to get open 3s, namely Troy Daniels and Dragan Bender.
Bad fourth quarters have been a trend for the Wolves all season, and but the last two games have been a good sign for the team going forward.
Not only did they mount two consecutive comebacks for a pair of wins, they did it against a pair of in-division rivals – the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers – competing for their fourth slot in the Western Conference.
They’re still last in defensive rating in the fourth, but have created distance between them and the last-place Milwaukee Bucks in fourth quarter net rating.
Much of this has come because of the impressive play from Jimmy Butler, who is making a case for himself to make the fourth All-Star appearance of his career. He’s been on an efficiency pace Bulls fans would be familiar with, and he’s taking over games in the fourth at a consistent rate.
But he isn’t doing it alone.
Jamal Crawford has come up huge in the last two games, posting 20-plus point performances against both Portland and Denver.
After a couple days off, a successful two-game streak in the rearview mirror, and the season series as some extra incentive, this is a game the Wolves should win.
This season has proved that it’s no guarantee, though.
- Wondering what the Wolves have going on for Christmas in Los Angeles this year? Tom Thibodeau, on-brand as ever, has an answer.