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Minnesota Timberwolves 2012-13 Schedule: Monthly Matchups and W-L Predictions

Michael GibbonsCorrespondent IIAugust 2, 2012

Minnesota Timberwolves 2012-13 Schedule: Monthly Matchups and W-L Predictions

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    Last season, the Minnesota Timberwolves finished the season with a record of 26-40 and missed the playoffs by 10 games. Based on their winning percentage of 39.4 percent, they would have won 32 games in an 82-game schedule.

    While preparing for the Olympics in Las Vegas, power forward Kevin Love told Marc Spears of Yahoo that he wants to make the playoffs this season. If the Twolves fall short again, he may request a trade:

    My patience is not high. Would yours be, especially when I'm a big proponent of greatness surrounding itself with greatness? All these [Team USA] guys seem to have great players around them. It's tough seeing all these guys that are young and older who have all played in the playoffs. When they start talking about that, I have nothing to talk about. If I don’t make the playoffs next year I don’t know what will happen.

    With the moves the Wolves have made, it's safe to say that general manager David Kahn got the memo. They have signed Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved.

    He also traded for Dante Cunningham and sharpshooter Chase Budinger.

    So, how does the schedule look? Will the Wolves be able to make Love happy?

    With 23 sets of back-to-back games, it won't be easy.

November

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    Friday, November 2 vs. Sacramento

    Sunday, November 4 @ Toronto

    Monday, November 5 @ Brooklyn

    Wednesday, November 7 vs. Orlando

    Friday, November 9 vs. Indiana

    Saturday, November 10 @ Chicago

    Monday, November 12 @ Dallas

    Wednesday, November 14 vs. Charlotte

    Friday, November 16 vs Golden State

    Wednesday, November 21 vs. Denver

    Friday, November 23 @ Portland

    Saturday, November 24 @ Golden State

    Tuesday, November 27 @ Sacramento

    Wednesday, November 28 @Clippers

    Friday, November 30 vs. Milwaukee

Key November Matchups

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    Monday, November 5 @ Brooklyn

    This is an interesting game for a couple of reasons. The first reason is because the Nets, formally from New Jersey, have gone through a pretty big makeover this offseason. They might not have gotten Dwight Howard, but Joe Johnson is still a nice addition.

    The second reason is that the Wolves have added a pair of Russians in Andrei Kirilenko and rookie Alexey Shvead, while the Nets are owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

     

    Monday, November 12 @ Dallas

    Much like Brooklyn, the Dallas Mavericks have gone through a major overhaul. Very few players remain from their 2010 championship team, but a case can be made that they are even better now. If you want to make the playoffs, you have to beat playoff-caliber teams.

     

    Friday, November 23 @ Portland

    Brandon Roy's return to Portland is going to be must-watch television. A year after retiring and being amnestied by the Blazers, how will his knee hold up? How will he be welcomed back by the fans? Also, these two teams could be battling for playoff positioning all season.

     

    Wednesday, November 28 @ Clippers

    Do I need to say anything but Love vs. Griffin? Kevin Love and Blake Griffin are probably the best two young power forwards in the league. Any time they face off, it's a pleasure.

    The Clippers are serious contenders for not only the Western Conference crown but also the NBA Championship. If the Wolves stay healthy, this could be a potential first-round playoff matchup.

     

    November W/L Prediction: 9-6

    Wins: Sacramento x2, Toronto, Charlotte, Golden State x2, Denver, Portland, Milwaukee

    Losses: Brooklyn, Orlando, Chicago, Indiana, Dallas, Clippers

November Previews and Predictions

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    Best 1-on-1 Matchup of November

    Like I said earlier, how can the matchup of Kevin Love and Blake Griffin not excite you? Both are All-Stars and are guys who are expected to score 20 points while grabbing 10 or more rebounds a night. If not for an injury to Griffin, both would be part of Team USA right now in London. 

     

    Timberwolves' Best-Case Scenario for November

     A best-case scenario for the Wolves would be if they win 11 games. In my prediction, I have them going .500 on the road, but if they can steal a road game from Brooklyn, Chicago or Dallas, then it could be a much better month.

     

    Timberwolves' Worst-Case Scenario for November

    A lot could go wrong in the first month of the season. Without Ricky Rubio, health is already an issue. Can Brandon Roy stay healthy?

    Also, they have 15 games with eight of them coming on the road, along with four sets of back-to-back games. That is a tough schedule for a young team.

    If they split with Golden State and Sacramento while not beating Portland and Denver, it could be a very bad month. In a worst-case scenario they might go 6-9.

December

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    Tuesday, December 4 @ Philadelphia

    Wednesday, December 5 @ Boston

    Friday, December 7 vs. Cleveland

    Wednesday, December 12 vs. Denver

    Friday, December 14 @ New Orleans

    Saturday, December 15 vs. Dallas

    Monday, December 17 @ Orlando

    Tuesday, December 18 @ Miami

    Thursday, December 20 vs. Oklahoma City

    Sunday, December 23 @ New York

    Wednesday, December 26 vs. Houston

    Saturday, December 29 vs. Phoenix

Key December Matchups

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    Friday, December 14 @ New Orleans

    The Wolves get their first look at rookie Anthony Davis, whom some have compared to Tim Duncan. It should be interesting to see how he matches up against Love. If Davis has the effect some experts have predicted, these two teams could be battling for one of those final playoff spots in the West.

     

    Tuesday, December 18 @ Miami

    Any time you play the defending champions, you get a little more amped up for the game. This will be the second half of a back-to-back and their fourth game in five nights, so it has the potential to be a letdown. If the Wolves are struggling, this game could give Love more dreams of playing with other stars.

     

    Thursday, December 20 vs. Oklahoma City

    After playing the champs on Tuesday, they get to turn around and play the team they beat on Thursday. As long as the Thunder have Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, they are going to be tough to beat. Could Love, Roy and Rubio be the next Big Three in the West?

     

    December W/L Prediction: 7-5

    Wins: Philadelphia, Cleveland, Denver, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix

    Losses: Boston, Orlando, Miami, Oklahoma City, New York

December Previews and Predictions

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    Best 1-on-1 Matchup of December

    Kevin Love facing off against Kevin Garnett is an interesting matchup. On one side, there is the former Twolves star who bolted to play with other stars and win a championship. On the other side, we have Love, who is also thinking about doing the same. Let's hope history doesn't repeat itself.

     

    Timberwolves' Best-Case Scenario for December

    With only 12 games in the entire month, there is plenty of time to rest up and get ready for each game. If they can go 2-2 over that brutal stretch of games between Dallas and Oklahoma, it could end up being a very good month. If they do that, they could go 9-3 or maybe even 10-2.

     

    Timberwolves' Worst-Case Scenario for December

    While they only have 12 games, they have three sets of back-to-backs, and half of the games are on the road. They also are facing off against eight teams who made the playoffs last season. If they were lose to Denver and Philadelphia, they could finish 5-7, which would be very disappointing.

January

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    Wednesday, January 2 @ Utah

    Thursday, January 3 @ Denver

    Saturday, January 5 vs. Portland

    Tuesday, January 8 vs. Atlanta

    Wednesday, January 9 @ Oklahoma City

    Friday, January 11 @ New Orleans

    Sunday, January 13 @ San Antonio

    Monday, January 14 @ Dallas

    Thursday, January 17 vs. Clippers

    Saturday, January 19 vs. Houston

    Monday, January 21 @ Atlanta

    Wednesday, January 23 vs. Brooklyn

    Friday, January 25 @ Washington

    Saturday, January 26 @ Charlotte

    Wednesday, January 30 vs. Clippers

Key January Matchups

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    Wednesday, January 4 @ Utah

    After playing a year overseas, Andrei Kirilenko returns to Utah. He spent his first 10 years in the league playing for the Jazz. Utah is a team the Wolves will have to overcome if they want to make the playoffs, since they were the eighth seed last season.

     

    Sunday, January 13 @ San Antonio

    The Wolves have to wait all the way until January before they face off against Tim Duncan and company. This game is the third of a four-game road trip that will have them facing off against the Thunder and Mavericks as well.

     

    January 17 and 30 vs. Clippers

    They don't just host the Clippers once this month, but twice. That is a third of their home schedule for the month. They need to at least split these games; otherwise, it could be a very bad month.

     

    January W/L Prediction: 8-7

    Wins: Utah, Portland, Atlanta, New Orleans, L.A. Clippers, Houston, Washington, Charlotte

    Losses: Denver, Oklahoma, San Antonio, Dallas, L.A. Clippers, Atlanta, Brooklyn

January Previews and Predictions

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    Best 1-on-1 Matchup of January

    This is a month of great matchups. Kevin Love is going to have his hands full, but Love against Al Jefferson is going to be a good one. While Love can shoot it from the outside, Jefferson is a banger who is nearly 30 pounds heavier. I bet these two will grab over 30 rebounds combined in the game.

     

    Timberwolves' Best-Case Scenario for January

    While it is a very road heavy schedule, they only have two sets of back-to-backs during the month. If they can defend their home court while winning four or five on the road, they will reach the double-digit win mark by going 10-5 or 11-4.


    Timberwolves' Worst-Case Scenario for January

    Nine games on the road is a very tough month, and their six home games aren't gimmes, either. They will be playing six of the eight Western Conference playoff teams from a year ago. While they could win 10 or 11 games, it is just as likely that they could lose as many.

    If they get swept by the Clippers at home, they could be looking at a 5-10 record for the month.

February

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    Friday, February 1 vs. Lakers

    Saturday, February 2 vs. New Orleans

    Monday, February 4 vs. Portland

    Wednesday, February 6 vs. San Antonio

    Friday, February 8 vs. New York

    Sunday, February 10 @ Memphis

    Monday, February 11 @ Cleveland

    Wednesday, February 13 vs. Utah

    All-Star Break

    Wednesday, February 20 vs. Philadelphia

    Friday, February 22 @ Oklahoma City

    Sunday, February 24 vs. Golden State

    Tuesday, February 26 @ Phoenix

    Thursday, February 28 @ Lakers

Key February Matchups

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    February 1 and 28 vs. Lakers

    After waiting until January to see the Spurs, the Timberwolves have to wait until February before seeing the new-look Lakers. While we know Kevin Love will be part of the Western Conference All-Star team, how many Lakers will be members? Also, the final game on the month could be a potential return for Rickey Rubio.

     

    Friday, February 8 vs. Knicks

    If the Wolves want to make the playoffs, they are going to have to defend their home court against good teams. The Knicks represent the last in a six-game homestand, which sees four playoffs teams visiting the Target Center. They are on the road for five of the final eight games in the month, so this is a must-win game.

     

    Sunday, February 10 at Memphis

    Traveling to Memphis for the first time will provide a good test for this team. The Grizzlies are exactly where the Wolves want to be as a yearly playoff contender. Kevin Love will have his hands full with Zac Randolph and Marc Gasol.

     

    February W/L Prediction: 8-5

    Wins: New Orleans, Portland, New York, Cleveland, Utah, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Golden State

    Losses: Lakers x 2, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Memphis

February Previews and Predictions

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    Best 1-on-1 Matchup of February

    Kobe Bryant against Brandon Roy a few years ago was a must-watch matchup. I wonder if it can return to that. By this point in the season we should have a good idea of what type of player Roy is. Either he will be struggling to stay healthy, or he will be showing that he made the right move un-retiring.

     

    Timberwolves' Best-Case Scenario for February

    With a lot of home games and some easy road games, it could be a good month for the Wolves. If they split with the Lakers while winning two of three against Memphis, Oklahoma City and San Antonio, they could be looking at an 11-win month.

     

    Timberwolves' Worst-Case Scenario for February

    If Roy has broken down by this point and Rubio doesn't look ready to return, things could turn very ugly this month. They could easily be looking at a 5-8 record just based off of the competition they face. 

March

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    Saturday, March 2 @ Portland

    Monday, March 4 vs. Miami

    Wednesday, March 6 vs. Washington

    Saturday, March 9 @ Denver

    Sunday, March 10 vs. Dallas

    Tuesday, March 12 vs. San Antonio

    Wednesday, March 13 @ Indiana

    Friday, March 15 @ Houston

    Sunday, March 17 vs. New Orleans

    Monday, March 18 @ Memphis

    Thursday, March 21 @ Sacramento

    Friday, March 22 @ Phoenix

    Sunday, March 24 vs. Chicago

    Tuesday, March 26 @ Detroit

    Wednesday, March 27 vs. Lakers

    Friday, March 29 vs. Oklahoma City

    Saturday, March 30 vs. Memphis

Key March Matchups

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    Saturday, March 2 @ Portland

    In this second game back in Portland, the fanfare should be gone, and Brandon Roy should be looked on as the enemy. But, besides that, these two teams should be battling for playoff positioning, and any win you can get can help down the road when it comes to tiebreakers.

     

    Saturday, March 9 @ Denver

    Much like Portland, this game could help decide if the Wolves make the playoffs and where they are seeded. Also, with games against the Lakers, Spurs, Mavs and Thunder still on the schedule, they will need every win they can get.

     

    Sunday, March 24 vs. Chicago

    A game against Chicago on a Sunday in late March could allow the Wolves the chance to be in a national afternoon game. This game has the potential to be the first or one of the first games of Derrick Rose's return from a torn ACL.

     

    March W/L Prediction: 9-8

    Wins: Washington, Denver, San Antonio, Houston, New Orleans, Sacramento, Phoenix, Detroit, Memphis

    Losses: Portland, Miami, Dallas, Oklahoma City, L.A. Lakers, Indiana, Chicago

March Previews and Predictions

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    Best 1-on-1 Matchup of March

    Rubio vs. Rose could be the matchup at point guard in the All-Star game for the next decade if both recover from their ACL injuries and stay healthy. While Rose has more of a track record being in the league for four years, it will be interesting to see if Rubio is more than a flashy rookie.

     

    Timberwolves' Best-Case Scenario for March

    While there are some tough games, there are plenty of cupcakes on the schedule. Wolves need to take advantage of Detroit, Washington and Phoenix. With nine home games, there is potential for them to do some real damage. If they are able to upset Chicago and beat the Lakers or Thunder, then they are looking at a 11-6 month.

     

    Timberwolves' Worst-Case Scenario for March

    Not only are they playing a lot of good teams this month, but they are playing the four top teams in the league last season. With six sets of back-to-back games and two sets of four games in five nights, it could take a real toll on this team. A 6-11 record for the month would really hurt their playoff chances.

April

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    Monday, April 1 vs. Boston

    Wednesday, April 3 @ Milwaukee

    Friday, April 5 vs. Toronto

    Saturday, April 6 vs. Detroit

    Tuesday, April 9 @ Golden State

    Wednesday, April 10 @ Clippers

    Friday, April 12 @ Utah

    Saturday, April 13 vs. Phoenix

    Monday, April 15 vs. Utah

    Wednesday, April 17 @ San Antonio

Key April Matchups

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    Monday, April 1 vs. Boston

    I know Kevin Garnett signed a three-year contract with the Celtics, but at 36, who knows how much longer he will play? Could this be Garnett's final game in Minnesota? With half of their games on the road in the final month, this could be a big one.

     

    April 12 & 15 vs. Utah

    These two games could decide the eighth and final playoff team for the Western Conference. April 12 will be at Utah, while the Wolves host the April 15 matchup. If the Wolves have a healthy Roy and Rubio, you have to like their chances.

     

    Wednesday, April 17 @ San Antonio

    After 81 games, it might come down to the final game of the season. While everything could be on the line for the Wolves, the Spurs may have nothing to play for. Over the years, coach Gregg Popovich has shown he isn't afraid to give his guys a rest. That means the Wolves could be facing off against the Spurs bench.

     

    April W/L Prediction: 6-4

    Wins: Utah, Detroit, Toronto, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Golden State

    Losses: Utah, L.A. Clippers, San Antonio, Boston

April Previews and Predictions

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    Best 1-on-1 Matchup of April

    It was the best matchup in November, and it will still be the best matchup in April. Let's be honest: any month Blake Griffin and Kevin Love face off, it would be the best matchup of the month. Wouldn't it be something if we got to see the two face off in the first round of the playoffs?

     

    Timberwolves' Best-Case Scenario for April

    If the Wolves are healthy at the end of the season, there is a real chance they could go 8-2 this month. If that were to happen, then they might be looking at the fifth or sixth seed instead of fighting for the final playoff spot. A lot of it will come down to how Rubio returns, if he does in fact return.

     

    Timberwolves' Worst-Case Scenario for April

    If Rubio has any setback or is rusty, and if Roy is in street clothes, April could be the end of another disappointing season. If they get swept by Utah and lose to Golden State, then they go from 6-4 to 4-6 and are possibly on the outside looking in come playoff time.

Season Predictions

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    Doing the math, it looks like the Timberwolves could end the season with a record of 47-35. Based on the past few seasons, it looks like there is a good chance they could make the playoffs for the first time in a while.

    During the 2010-2011 season it took 46 wins to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. It's safe to say that the Thunder, Lakers, Clippers, Spurs and Mavs are all locks. If Memphis is able to stay healthy, I would also put them as a lock, but if they are without Rudy Gay or Zach Randolph for an extended period time, it could be tough.

    That leaves the Wolves fighting with Denver, Utah and Portland for the final two playoff spots.

    A lot of that will come down to the play of Roy and Kirilineko. Both have struggled to stay healthy over the years, and both are going to be called upon to help ease the load Kevin Love has to carry. Another big factor will be when and how Ricky Rubio returns.

    If those three are in street clothes more than their uniforms, then it comes down to Love and a bench of role players. If that happens, then they are probably looking at a record more like 31-51. And if that happens, then the Wolves will be looking at a summer full of trade speculation.

    One thing in their favor is that they have moveable parts. If they are staying in the hunt for the playoffs and need to add someone, they have a potentially large trade piece in Derrick Williams. Trading him may get them a point guard or another big to help them down the stretch.

    trade of Williams and J.J. Barea could be enough to lure Kevin Martin away from the Rockets.

    With Rick Adelman on the bench and Kevin Love healthy, there is hope in Minnesota. Let's hope for a successful season; otherwise, the vultures may start to circle.

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