Few NBA matchups exemplify polar opposite situations quite like this.
The Timberwolves just went 5-0 on their five-game homestand, have won 12 of their last 15 games and are first in net rating over that 15-game stretch.
In that time, they’ve moved up to third in the Western Conference, and are just 2.5 games out of second.
Meanwhile, the Orlando Magic have lost their last seven, 16 of their last 17 games. They’re in the bottom three in both offensive and defensive rating during that span, resulting in – not shockingly – the worst record in the league.
The Magic get good production from an improved Aaron Gordon and solid vet Evan Fournier, with both of them shooting over 37 percent from 3-point land on the year.
Even Elfrid Payton, who has struggled otherwise, is even shooting a career-best 38.6 percent from deep.
And while both have had success individually, neither have been able to pull the load offensively for their team, resulting in generally stagnant offense and forced shots.
This is due in large part to the struggles of the rest of the team.
They’ve gotten minimal results from Terrence Ross, who was the key piece in a trade that sent Serge Ibaka to Toronto, Nikola Vucevic is shooting career-lows from the field, and rookie Jonathan Isaac hasn’t found his footing in the NBA yet.
Also, Adreian Payne plays for the Magic on a two-way contract. Yes, that Adreian Payne.
It’s a game that, on paper, the Timberwolves should win. Not only are they winning at a (franchise-specific) historic pace, they’re doing it against good teams.
Granted, the Wolves have, at times, struggled this season against lesser opponents, their recent play suggests those occurrences might start to decrease.
But, like all NBA games, nothing is guaranteed. The Magic have won big against the Cavaliers, and the Timberwolves have two losses to the Suns.
You never know.
- The Timberwolves finally filled their second two-way spot, signing Amile Jefferson on Monday. It became official Monday afternoon, via a press release from the team. This puts three players on Timberwolves contract in Iowa: Jefferson, Justin Patton and Anthony Brown.
- As mentioned, the Timberwolves have been firing on all cylinders lately. Since Dec. 18, they’re first in offensive rating, first in net rating and fourth in defensive rating.
- Monday was the last day of All-Star ballots. According to the most recent returns, both Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns will likely have to receive votes from the coaches to get their spots in the game.
Listen to Tim on Wolves Wired!