Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 2/15/12
MINNEAPOLIS There's a certain logic to the little things, to shots falling and players fouling, to passing and dribbling. It's about angles and speed, about picking the right moment and acting. But when it comes to who's able to find that perfect blend of timing and vision, logic doesn't always prevail. Luck can overpower logic, and momentum trumps it all. That's why planning based on what should happen can often be a dangerous trap in the NBA. Here's what should happen Wednesday night: The Timberwolves should get a small early lead over the Bobcats, who average a league-worst 86.4 points per game. Although the Timberwolves average 96 points, they're notoriously slow to start offensively, so a big lead at halftime may not happen. That lead should come in the third quarter, though, when the Timberwolves average 25.2 points fourth-best in the NBA. The Timberwolves should win. They should snap their season-long four-game losing streak. They should. But should doesn't mean anything, especially in this sometimes-frantic compressed season. Teams need, more than anything, to plan for what could happen, and the Timberwolves know this all too well. They're almost never the "should win" team. They shouldn't have hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat a Clippers team that's third in the Western Conference. They shouldn't have mounted a double-digit comeback to nearly defeat the Lakers. They shouldn't have taken two out of three against Dallas this season. But they did, and that's the beauty of sports. Some people will buy tickets to Wednesday night's game or turn on their televisions simply because the Timberwolves should win. But a smart fan will watch because they very well could not. There's no point in wasting two hours on a foregone conclusion. "We can't overlook any team," Kevin Love said. "You know, the Bobcats, any team for that matter, are capable of winning basketball games." The Bobcats have won just three games so far this season, and they're mired in a 15-game losing streak. But those three wins came against Milwaukee, New York and Golden State, teams with records not all that different from the Timberwolves'. Charlotte also is coming off a 98-89 loss to the 76ers, a game that each team's record and statistics dictate should have been far more out of reach. There's that word again. Should. Right now, snapping their own four-game losing streak is at the forefront of the Timberwolves' minds. And as a team that was in a similar position to Charlotte just a year ago, they know the danger of assuming an easy win. As the worst team in the NBA last season, the Timberwolves had to adopt the mentality that records and predictions didn't matter. It would have been the only way to stay sane during a season in which nearly every game was a "should lose" situation. And though the team did seem to take winning for granted at several points this season, an attitude of resolve and uncertainty has returned. "Here you have to fight for all games," Rubio said. "You never can think about their record because that can mean nothing, sometimes. We just have to go hard from the beginning and try to win the game." Perhaps a return to the urgency of last season and earlier this year when winning was never an assumption is what this team needs. Michael Beasley said that before the team's recent losing streak began, he thought it was playing great basketball. Guys were playing like they wanted to win, but now they're playing like they're going to win, he said, like they don't have to work as hard as they did. That's a dangerous trap for a young team to fall into. Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman recognized the same premature swagger that Beasley sensed. "Maybe our success we had, guys thought it was going to be that easy," Adelman said. "And it's not. We had some success because we played hard, and we were playing well. But it's not just going to be given to you in this league." Adelman's mantra all season has been "we haven't won anything yet." It's his go-to line, especially during winning streaks, to keep players focused and locked-in, to keep them from assuming that two wins will logically lead to three, four, five. Now, though, he might want to take a tougher approach. "If we keep playing like this, we're never going to win anything" is beginning to seem like a fitting new catch phrase. After losing to Orlando by 13 points on Monday, the Timberwolves have the drive they need to get a win, be it against Charlotte or Oklahoma City. For some reason, that fourth loss seemed to shift the team into a more intense mindset. They'd lost three in a row before this season, but four four was uncharted territory, somewhere they hoped they might never have to visit. "It's a must-win for us," J.J. Barea said of Wednesday's game. "We've lost four in a row. We can't keep losing. We've got to turn it around, and it's got to be tonight. It's the most important game of the season right here." There may be more important games going forward, and if the team doesn't defeat Charlotte, its hopes and dreams won't come crashing down around it. But Barea's attitude, the hyperbole and frantic urgency, is what the Timberwolves need, not just against Charlotte, but every day of the season. Follow Joan Niesen on Twitter.
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