Since the infamous Jimmy Butler drama of the early season, things have been relatively quiet for the Minnesota Timberwolves. They’re not at the bottom of the Western Conference, but it’s not looking like they’ll find a way to the playoffs with their 21-22 record, and teams like the Jazz, Lakers, and Kings fighting neck-and-neck for that eighth-seed spot. They got a win over the Pelicans on Saturday (who, though they entered the season with high hopes spearheaded by Anthony Davis, will most likely miss the playoffs as well), but only barely, with scoring led by Karl-Anthony Towns’s 27 points and 27 rebounds.
The often-heralded spark plug for this Timberwolves team, veteran superstar Derrick Rose, is questionable for tonight and missed the win against New Orleans. In the team’s previous matchup against the Mavericks, though, he was able to contribute 21 points off the bench and further make his case for Sixth Man of the Year.
In spite of any lingering chemistry issues since the acquisition of Jimmy Butler, the 76ers are full steam ahead, sitting comfortably at 4th place in the East. They got a narrow win over the Knicks in their latest contest, where Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and JJ Redick all scored 20+. Ben Simmons continued his impressive season by tacking on 22 rebounds to his stat line as well.
With a healthy roster and momentum to boot, here’s what the 76ers starting lineup will look like against the Timberwolves:
76ers Starting Lineup Against the Minnesota Timberwolves
PG: Ben Simmons
SG: JJ Redick
SF: Jimmy Butler
PF: Wilson Chandler
C: Joel Embiid
Tonight’s game should be a win for the Sixers that improves their momentum heading into a difficult stretch. Next up, the team will face the Pacers, Thunder, Rockets, Spurs, Nuggets, Lakers, and then Warriors–followed by the Kings and the Raptors, then the Nuggets again, then the Lakers again, then the Celtics. In short: the Sixers upcoming schedule is a brutal, relentless onslaught of some of the league’s very best.
Joel Embiid, with characteristic optimism, says he’s excited about the upcoming gauntlet. “We’re going to see how good we are and how good we can become — or how bad we are,” he told ESPN after the team’s win over the Knicks. “I think the next three weeks are really going to shape our season. … It will be exciting. It will be a good test.”
Out of their next 13 games, 11 will be nationally televised and 12 will be against teams above .500. Not only will the upcoming games be a test for the Sixers themselves, but they’ll be a gauge for the rest of the league. You can bet that everyone has an eye on this Sixers team, which has a chance to upset the entire Eastern Conference.
The Sixers begin this next stretch of the season against the Timberwolves tonight at 7:00 pm EST.