Don’t look now, but the Minnesota Timberwolves are undefeated since the return of the old leather ball and in 2007! We’ll see how long that streak holds up, but the Wolves current 4-game winning streak, which featured 3 consective ovetime victories, has catapulted the team into the playoff picture. The Wolves are currently 2nd in the Northwest Division and 7th in the West. If they can keep this level of play up, the playoffs are a guarantee, and a nice seed wouldn’t be out of the question.
[ad2] Right now the Wolves main competitors for seeding are the Jazz, Lakers, Rockets, Nuggets, and Warriors. The Warrior’s don’t pose much a threat at this point, but the Nuggets and Rockets who are one spot behind and in front of the Wolves respectively, could cause some problems down the road. Both teams are currently without their main star and could pose a threat once they get healthy. The Lakers and Jazz are further out front and would be difficult to catch, however with Utah’s roster full of injury-prone players, it’s not completely out of the question that a sprain here or there could help the Wolves capture the division.
Of course all of that is pure speculation at this point. The thing that really matters is that the Wolves continue to play well. Here’s what I feel are the keys to the Timberwolves latest run:
KG has been a monster: This might be due to the new ball, but whatever the cause Garnett is playing like a man with a renewed sense of purpose. He’s actually seemed happy out there the past few games. Winning breeds an attitude of winning. Let’s hope this cycle continues.
Blount: Mark Blount has put up some tremendous numbers lately and has come out of nowhere to be this team’s “second star” as of late. It’s hard to say whether he’ll come back down to earth or not, but if he can even maintain a fraction of his improved play, it bodes well for the Wolves.
Hassell: Trenton is playing in a manner reminiscent of the 2003-2004 season. He’s hitting his shots and making the hustle plays on offense. His defense has also markedly improved and he can once again be considered this team’s stopper.
Foye: Although Foye struggled against the Rockets, the young fella has proven to be a huge playmaker late in the game. Needless to say, I’m extremely excited about the Randy Foye era.
James: While he’s been widely criticized for not living up to the expectations, you have to hand it to Mike James for stepping up in the clutch last night. Although it’s becoming increaslingly clear that Randy Foye should be this team’s alpha point guard, Mike James has the potential to be a really solid backup.
It’s been a well-covered fact that the Timberwolves play well when KG has two teammates that step up and play like stars. In 2003-2004 it was nearly an every night occurrence that Cassell and Spree would be those players. Earlier this year the pressure was on Mike James and Ricky Davis to emulate the Wolves old MV3. However, the 2006-2007 Wolves roster is deep enough that on any given night, Garnett should be able to find two teammates who are feelin’ it. It doesn’t always have to be Mike and Ricky, as the recent combos of Mark and Randy and Mark and Trenton have proved to be extremely effective.
For the first time this year, the Timberwolves have strung together a series of games where they’ve really played like a true “team”. The results speak for themselves, and if this team can maintain this level consistently, they’ll be talking all the way into the playoffs.