by Micah Hart
As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.
With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart. Up next, the Minnesota Timberwolves, who played three straight from Feb. 28 – Mar. 1.
The Timberwolves take their second crack at the three-fer, having posted a mere 2 points their first go-round Jan 8-10. Could they improve on it this time, with all three games coming on the road?
Game 1: Timberwolves 109, Clippers 97 – I get the feeling that if Derrick Williams goes on to have an All-Star caliber career, many will look back at this game as the first time he really flashed that kind of potential. Coming off a disappointing performance in the Dunk Contest, Williams dropped 27 on the Lakers off the bench, scoring inside and out as Minnesota started the second half right with a huge road win over the Clippers. 3 points (1 for win, 1 for road, 1 for +10)
Game 2: Lakers 104, Timberwolves 85 – Williams’ hot shooting at Staples unfortunately didn’t carry over the next night, as the Masked Mamba dropped 31 on Minnesota, which was playing without Kevin Love (illness). The T’wolves clearly missed their All-Star, as no player scored more than 14 points and the team shot just 5-19 from downtown without the league’s 3-point champion. -1 point
Game 3: Suns 104, Timberwolves 95 – Another game typical of what we might expect from a team finishing three games in three nights. The Timberwolves were in it early, leading by five at the half, before running out of steam in the second half and losing by nine. 0 points
2 points for the Timberwolves, just like the last time, but they did face a somewhat unique challenge in this one. Not only were all three of their games on the road (which we’ve seen only a handful of times this season), but each game was their opponent’s first game after the All-Star break. Maybe not such a big deal against the Clippers, but certainly a disadvantage against the Suns.
Up next: The defending champion Dallas Mavericks get their lone crack at the threeplay, with three straight contests Mar. 8-10.
Three for all Top Ten:
— Miami Heat (15 points)
— Chicago Bulls (13 points)
— OKC Thunder (12 points)
— New Jersey Nets II (8 points)
— Atlanta Hawks (8 points)
— Houston Rockets (7 points)
— Portland Trail Blazers (6 points)
— L.A. Clippers (6 points)
— Philadelphia 76ers (6 points)
— Denver Nuggets I (6 points)