Even though the Timberwolves defeated the Thunder 106-103 on Tuesday night to finish 3-1 in the group play portion of the NBA's in-season tournament, the Wolves failed to qualify for the eight-team knockout round.
Sacramento defeated Golden State to finish 4-0 and win the Wolves' group, and the Wolves fell short of claiming the one Western Conference wild-card spot, which went to Phoenix, who had a better margin of victory than the Wolves.
Because the Wolves didn't advance to the next stage, the league has scheduled two games for the Wolves to play next week, one home and one away, and the draw was about as good as they could have hoped.
First, they'll face San Antonio at home on Wednesday, Dec. 6, in an ESPN game that tips off at 6:30. Then they'll head to Memphis, where they just won Sunday, for a road game on Friday, Dec. 8.
This scheduling sets up nicely for the Wolves. After an early-season schedule that featured several top teams like Boston, Phoenix, Denver, Oklahoma City, New York and Philadelphia, the Wolves now enter a relatively soft period of the slate. The timing of this stretch of schedule also couldn't be better for the Wolves if Anthony Edwards has to miss time because of a right hip contusion he suffered in Tuesday's win.
On Thursday, they'll face the Jazz (6-11) at home and Utah will be on the second night of a back to back. The Wolves previously beat the Jazz 123-95 on Nov. 4. Then they'll head to Charlotte on Saturday to face the 5-11 Hornets, who will be without point guard LaMelo Ball after he suffered an ankle injury and is expected to be out multiple weeks.
Then come the games against rebuilding San Antonio (3-14) and the shorthanded Grizzlies (3-13). The Wolves defeated San Antonio on the road 117-110 on Nov. 10 and blew out Memphis 119-97 on Sunday. Memphis will still be without several players such as Brandon Clarke, Steven Adams, the suspended Ja Morant and probably guard Marcus Smart.
These games are winnable for the Wolves even if Edwards has to take some time off to heal. They showed in the second half of Tuesday's win they have the ability to defend and score enough to beat a quality opponent like the Thunder. They can still pile up wins if Edwards sits along with Jaden McDaniels, who is recovering from an injured ankle.