A Week of Wolves
It’s gonna be a long week.
by Stephen Litel / @stephenlitel
Every team in the NBA has a string of home games in a row at different times throughout the year, obviously. The Minnesota Timberwolves are about to host the Houston Rockets on Saturday, the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday and the San Antonio Spurs next Friday. Of course, the first game in this stretch against Houston, Minnesota will play without Al Jefferson, who will serve the second game of his two-game suspension.
Three of the teams about to come through Minneapolis—Dallas, Denver and San Antonio—would be in the playoffs if they started today. Houston is on the outside looking in at a playoff berth, but if the chips fell right for them, they could still grab one of the final spots. So, all four teams still have quite a lot to play for as they try to secure the playoff seeding they desire or the playoff berth they hope to achieve.
Entering this weekend, the Timberwolves are a Western Conference worst 14-48. It would seem that the best thing to do would lose as many games as possible to secure as many ping pong balls in the Draft Lottery as possible. However, Kurt Rambis and his coaching staff have achieved one of their goals for this season…the team is “hanging in there.” Everyone knew it was going to be a long season—and, wow, it has been—but the players know the evaluation will go down to the final game of the year and are playing as such.
This will be the one week in the season where I will be exhausted as if I’m playing in the games. Between a “normal” 40-hour a week job, my children and covering these four games, sleep will become a rarity in the next week. Trust me, I’m not complaining in the slightest, as I always remember the great opportunity it is to cover the games and speak with players throughout the league.
This week is important to the Timberwolves since they just kicked off a huge season ticket push for next season, asking fans to help create one of the best home court advantages in the league. Well, the opportunity to see Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and the other stars throughout the league a couple times a year is not enough anymore. Fans want to see there is something—anything—for them to cheer for on the home team in the future. This year was a start with Kevin Love continuing to do his rebounding thing, the development of Jonny Flynn and Corey Brewer, the quiet and under-valued play of Ryan Gomes and the offensive abilities of Al Jefferson…but, obviously, that is not enough.
So, as I embark on this challenging week, I decided to create this Week of Wolves series to document what it is like in Minnesota during the NBA season. It will be part game notes, part interviews and part ramblings of a sleep-deprived man. Check back often, spread the word and pray for me. It’s going to be a long week.