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Wolves Still Firmly In The Hunt

Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves are finding form at the right time.

Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves are finding form at the right time.

It might not have been the most high profile game played on Tuesday night, but the Minnesota Timberwolves’ victory over the Phoenix Suns was certainly one of the most relevant final scores of a busy night in the Association.

Thanks to Kevin Love’s league-leading 48th double-double and a surprising 20 points from rookie Shabazz Muhammad, the Timberwolves managed to go into the desert and score a 110-101 victory over the Suns.

The win marked a fourth success in five games for Rick Adelman’s side, but more importantly saw the Wolves inch closer to the final playoff berth in the Western Conference.

As things currently stand, Minnesota (28-29) sits in 10th place, 5.5 games behind Phoenix (33-23) in eighth and 7 games back of the Golden State Warriors (35-22) in sixth.

With just 25 games left on the schedule, and with five teams fighting for three positions, the Wolves still face an uphill battle, but there are plenty of positives to be taken in the wake of Tuesday night’s victory.

Of Minnesota’s remaining 25 games, only 12 come against teams currently above .500. The Wolves still have six games left against other teams involved in the playoff hunt (if you include a March 3 matchup with the Denver Nuggets who look on the verge of being dead and buried right now).

But perhaps most crucially, Minnesota has had success against those teams it will be challenging for the final berth. The Wolves are 1-1 against the Warriors, Suns, and Memphis Grizzlies this season, and own a 2-1 advantage over the Dallas Mavericks. If the Wolves can get close enough for a tiebreak situation, they could very well hold the advantage, if they can pick up those important wins before the end of the season.

Minnesota has two games left against the Grizzlies and one fixture each against the Warriors, Mavericks, and Suns.

While the climb is still a steep one, the Wolves – picked to finish outside the playoff positions by bookmakers ahead of the season – have the talent to at least compete for that final berth. They’ll need some help along the way, but with Phoenix playing hit-and-miss ball at the moment and Dallas one injury away from bottoming out, playing hard could pay dividends.

Denver fans will celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the biggest upsets in NBA history next month, while their team looks certain to miss the postseason.

Denver fans will celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the biggest upsets in NBA history next month, while their team looks certain to miss the postseason this time round.

While Minnesota remains in the postseason hunt, the same can’t be said of division rivals, the Denver Nuggets.

Denver (25-31) suffered a third straight defeat Tuesday night, succumbing at home to the Portland Trail Blazers.

The loss also marked an eighth defeat in nine games. Since January 13, the Nuggets are a woeful 6-14, a trend that has seen the side’s playoff hopes put in jeopardy.

An article appeared in The Denver Post this week detailing the team’s plans next month to honor the 1994 Nuggets side that knocked off the Seattle Supersonics, becoming the first No. 8 seed in history to advance in the playoffs. Such ceremonies are likely to be the only ceremonies fans in the Mile High City – still licking their wounds after the Broncos’ Super Bowl meltdown – will witness before next season.

The Nuggets may not be mathematically eliminated yet but the challenge ahead looks like one the team won’t overcome.

16 of the team’s final 26 games are against teams with a winning record, and seven come against the five teams currently battling for the final three playoff berths. The Nuggets are 6-7 against those sides so far this season.

Based on recent form, the Nuggets are more likely to be overtaken by the Utah Jazz in the Northwest Division than earn a playoff berth.

The Nuggets will be back in action on Thursday when they host the Brooklyn Nets at Pepsi Center. BettingSports.com will have all of the odds and trends for that fixture.

Minnesota enjoys a three-day lay-off before returning to the hardwood against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday.

The Wolves and Nuggets will meet for the final time this season next Monday (Mar. 3).

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