On the calendar, the Golden State Warriors’ Friday matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves is not a date that is circled in red. At least, it shouldn’t be. The two teams are in such different places that this upcoming contest should not be a cause for concern for the Warriors.
After all, the Dubs have taken that next step to elite status, riding the momentum from last season’s playoff berth toward ambitions of a division title, home-court advantage, a deeper postseason run and an eventual NBA Finals appearance.
Meanwhile, the T-Wolves are idling in the middle of the pack of the Western Conference with a 20-21 record and are fourth place in the Northwest Division.
Despite the return of Kevin Love from an injury-riddled 2012-2013 and the addition of free-agent guard Kevin Martin, Minnesota has yet to position itself into relevant, competitive contention this season. Which is confounding not only for the team but also for the rest of the league and NBA analysts.
What gives with Minnesota? Why is it underachieving? Is it a capable playoff team?
The Timberwolves’ mediocrity does not mean Friday’s game is one to take lightly. It doesn’t mean it will be an easy win for the Dubs. It doesn’t even mean the Warriors will win this home game at all, given Golden State’s up-and-down performance over the past couple of weeks. The Warriors have followed up a 10-game winning streak with a 2-4 stretch that includes a few lackluster, flat performances.
With only 10 games remaining before the All-Star Game, the Warriors need to finish off the first half of the season strongly. Eight of them are home games, and are against sub-.500 opponents—starting with Friday’s tilt against Minnesota.
The Dubs need to win the games they are supposed to. But, as last week’s matchup against the Denver Nuggets showed, anything is possible as long as the Warriors do not play up to their expectations.
Here are five things to watch for in Friday’s contest between the Golden State Warriors and the Minnesota Timberwolves.