After Thursday's win over the Raptors, the Timberwolves jumped two places in the Western Conference standings, from ninth to seventh place. Such is the precarious West this season. Even one game can have a significant impact on a team's place in the standings.
One good week or one bad week can send a team flying up or plummeting down the standings.
The Wolves entered Friday sitting just 1 ½ games behind Dallas for the fifth seed, while Sacramento and New Orleans were tied four games ahead of them for the third seed. They have a chance the next few days to keep moving up with two matchups against the worst team in the league, Houston.
The Wolves' main pursuit with Karl-Anthony Towns out because of a right calf injury was to "keep our heads above water," as coach Chris Finch put it before Thursday's game.
The Wolves have been doing just enough to do that in the standings as they await Towns' return, the date of which is still unknown.
Towns offered some clarity on the nature of his injury and vented some frustration around it during comments he made on his Twitch platform after Thursday's game. Towns hasn't made many public comments about his injury since he suffered it Nov. 28 in Washington.
But Towns revealed he had a Grade 3 calf strain, a severe injury that could command a recovery time of more than two months, and not a less severe Grade 2 strain.
"It was never a Grade 2 [strain], it was never going to be a Grade 2, unfortunately," Towns said on his livestream. "I prayed to God almighty that it was a Grade 2, but I knew it wasn't. It was a Grade 3."
Towns took issue with a reported timetable of four to six weeks for giving fans "false hope" he might return sooner than anticipated.
"I wish it was four to six weeks. I knew then it wasn't going to be four to six," Towns said. "The team was trying to say four to six. There was no way with the injury I sustained, it's a very significant injury. I don't know if they were trying to give false hope to the fans or what the case may be."
The four- to six-week timetable stemmed from an ESPN report that cited sources saying Towns could return in that time. It was also used in the headline of the piece.
That timetable was never offered publicly by the team. The team, in a news release after Towns had further testing following the injury, said Towns would be sidelined "indefinitely." Finch, when asked many times about Towns' recovery, has never put a firm timetable on Towns' return, often repeating that it would take many weeks.
The Star Tribune initially reported that one potential timetable for return could be four to six weeks but noted that timetable was not definite.
Fans, in reaching out to Towns on social media, grabbed on to the four- to six-week timeframe, and it seems to have frustrated Towns, who speculated about how that piece of information was dispersed. He said he had barely finished receiving an MRI when news began to be reported. He reiterated that timeframe never came from him.
"That wasn't fair to y'all," Towns said. "And more importantly, not to be on a selfish tip, but it was not fair to me for me to step into the room [after his MRI] and already have all this info out to the world that, one, wasn't accurate but, two, it was already unfair to me, a person who wants to play.
"I love playing basketball. I love doing what I do. I love my job and love the game and for you to give me false hope that I can be back in four to six, that's not fair. I just want to clear that up because I've been seeing a lot of people say that."
Nonetheless, Towns has said his recovery is going well, and he looks forward to returning, whenever that may be.
"I'm getting better. Everything is going good. Going really well," Towns said. "Just getting better, man. It takes time. This is a very real injury. Significant, but it could've been way worse."