A 127-99 drubbing of the Cleveland Cavaliers was unimaginable entering Monday night.
The Timberwolves hadn’t beaten a LeBron James team since 2014 and hadn’t beaten a LeBron James Cavaliers team since 2005. Beating the Cavs with Isaiah Thomas back in the lineup made winning more difficult — never mind a blowout.
Monday’s victory served as an important reminder. With the heightened expectations that come with an improved team and a decade of futility, it’s easy to have oscillating emotions from game-to-game.
Just last Wednesday, the Timberwolves lost 98-97 to Brooklyn. It was the first game of a road trip and the Nets were missing many of their best players. The Wolves sleepwalked through the first three quarters before making it a game late but ultimately came up short.
Two days later, the Wolves would lose by seven points to Boston on the road, continuing a season-long struggle against the Eastern Conference.
It’s dangerous to get too high or too low. Just look at Minnesota’s two games since the Celtics game.
Playing their fifth game in seven nights, they throttled the Pelicans at home, 116-98 to clinch the potential tiebreaker. This was a wire-to-wire win on the second night of a back-to-back, which only made it all the more impressive. That, of course, led to Monday’s dominance of the Cavaliers at home.
What’s encouraging is that the Wolves have held six-straight opponents to under 100 points. Despite the sporadic losses, the defense has done its job. It makes a difference when you shoot better than 1-for-11 on 3-pointers like they did in Brooklyn. In fact, since December 7, the Wolves have the 10th-best defensive rating in the NBA.
With a combined 243 points in their last two games, the offense is getting back on track as well. We’re now seeing how dangerous this team can be when things are clicking on both ends.
This stretch of games serves as a good reminder that the NBA season is long. Teams will lose games they shouldn’t, and they’ll also win games they shouldn’t.