It is finally here !
Yesterday, the Minnesota Timberwolves announced their schedule for the 2022-23 season, which you can view here:
Let’s review the highlights.
The ant effect
First and foremost, the Timberwolves will play 16(!) nationally televised games, up from four last season. 10 of those 16 games will be shown on ESPN or TNT, which is significant.
While only five of the 16 will be at Target Center, it’s safe to say Wolves will be on national TV plenty comes playoff time.
Minnesota has Anthony Edwards to thank for the jump. Edwards’ electrifying entry into high-leverage NBA hoops captivated the nation last spring. Ant Man dropped 30 and 36 points, respectively, in each of their first two postseason games while winning fans league-wide.
The NBA has no doubt taken note of the love for one of, if not the most marketable, rising star, and made sure that Edwards won’t just show up for Wolves fans and those who catch the eye. Coach Chris Finch’s Team on NBA League Pass.
Having two more All-NBA caliber stars certainly helps Minnesota’s case for more regular season games on national networks as well as its solid position as a surefire playoff team in 2023, which will obviously land more televised games. at national scale.
10 at a time
Wolves have not one, but two 10-game streaks with the easiest schedule in the NBA, and have a third with the second-simplest schedule.
To make this schedule even more favourable, Wolves are in the top 10 rest days in games 31-40 despite having the toughest opponent.
Minnesota will need to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 22-8 – at worst – in its first 30 games if it wants to make a legitimate effort for the No. won’t get much help in the rest department throughout the season.
But that’s where elite depth should come into play and help Minnesota enter the playoffs relatively fresh.
Get hot and stay hot
Timberwolves fans couldn’t ask for much more to start the season. Wolves start with five games against arguably the three worst teams in the conference before facing another team they should beat, the Los Angeles Lakers in Minneapolis. Five of those top seven are also at home.
It’s hell on the ramp for a team that has gone through significant changes.
They should start 6-0 heading into their first nationally televised (NBA TV) game in San Antonio against the rebuilding Spurs, already their third game of the season against the once-dynastic team.
It’s a good “dip your toes in the water” ahead of a pair of matchups against the 2021 NBA conference champions: at the Phoenix Suns on Nov. 1 (TNT) and at home against the Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 4 (ESPN) .
Even though they lose each of those two games, they face off against the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks at home – two more very winnable games.
Conservatively, Wolves are eyeing an 8-3 start but could very well be 9-2 or 10-1 if they acclimate to each other quicker than expected. It’s amazing just typing that and it’s not immediately ruled out as “looking through rose-colored glasses”.
Luckily for Wolves, the schedule gets tougher later in the season, (hopefully) after the side have overcome their growing pains.
We’ll find out how good a team can be once they enter a two-month gauntlet in February and March. Not only are these games the toughest based on opponent’s projected winning percentage (average of all opponents’ winning percentage based on their current season winning total prop at DraftKings Sportsbook), Minnesota is playing 15 of their 25 games during those months on the road.
They only have to face five games with resting advantage, which is good, while they get nine games with resting advantage which should help make up for the home/road split.
If Wolves win 80% of the games they should and maybe 50% of the games they shouldn’t during this streak, we’ll probably be looking at a 50-win team with home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. .
Consecutive luck? Consecutive luck!
Although I haven’t done this analysis for every team in the league, I would be surprised if there were more than two teams that got a more favorable draw in terms of consecutive games.
25 of Minnesota’s 82 games will be played against opponents either up front or in the back of a straight game.
Opponents’ B2B – Back End
Minnesota will play 15 games against opponents who on their second straight night, and Denver is scheduled to play Wolves three times after playing the previous night. It’s pretty brutal for the Nuggets and a giveaway for the Timberwolves.
Eight of those 15 will be at home.
The projected average win percentage of the opponents is 51.7%, so nothing crazy there.
Here’s a full rundown of the opponents Minnesota will catch on Night No. 2 of a straight streak.
Opponents’ B2B – Front End
Conversely, Wolves will only play 10 games against teams on the No. 1 night in a row, and only three of those will be at Target Center.
The average projected winning percentage of front-end opponents is 49.7%.
Here are the 10 games:
This is where the luck really gets out of control. While the Wolves will play 14 straight games, tied for second in the league, Minnesota will face the toughest opponent of the two games up front in 11 of 14 straight games.
It is an incredible chance.
Their opponent’s average strength on:
— Front parts: 54.1%
— Back-ends: 44.0%
Back to back by location:
— Four home/home
— Five away/outside
— Four away/home
— One home/away
Playing the second leg at home for eight of the 14 second legs is also pretty huge.
Here is Wolves’ B2B roster for 2022-23:
All in all, Wolves fans should be extremely excited about the schedule. With everything else constant, a good team that’s been through changes the size of Minnesota should prefer a busy schedule. This, of course, so they can beat small teams while building chemistry so they understand how to play with each other in high leverage matches in the final 30 games of the season.
If Wolves can get hot early — and stay hot — home-court advantage in the 2023 NBA Playoffs is certainly on the table.