The Wolves hold the 3rd seed currently with 18 games left to go in the 2017-18 season, sitting at 38-26. That said, they only hold a 4 game lead over the 9th place team, which means they could easily not make the playoffs.
After losing Jimmy Butler for what should be considered the rest of the regular season, the Wolves need someone to step up for the rest of the season and get the Wolves into the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Naturally, the expectations are that KAT and Andrew Wiggins step in and make a difference. But there will be the need for Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague to leverage their experience as well as the bench needing to be productive. The Wolves just need to play mistake free basketball.
That said, the next seven games look brutal.
@Portland (On TNT)
@ Utah (On ESPN)
vs Boston (On TNT)
vs Golden State (On ABC, and essentially a home game for the Warriors)
@Washington DC (On NBA TV)
@ San Antonio (On NBA TV)
vs Houston (On NBA TV)
To hold on to their 3rd place position, the Wolves will need to go at least 5-2. To hold on to their comfortable playoff hopes, they will need to go 3-4. The Wolves either play an elite team at the top of either conference or a team that is trying just as hard to make the playoffs.
The bad news in all of this is that it is likely that by the time the Wolves play the Spurs, Kawhi Leonard could return. The Wolves haven’t played well against these top tier teams all season. On top of that, the teams that seem winnable on this stretch are playing better than normal.
The Wolves are up for what should be an incredible test of what this team is capable of without Jimmy Butler. The stretch should certainly prepare the Wolves for the final stretch of 11 games after that as the race for the 3rd through 8th seeds in the West heats up.
Your long-lost blog,
The Timber Rebuilder