MINNEAPOLIS — The 82 obstacles between the Minnesota Timberwolves and a long-sought-after return to the postseason were announced to the world Tuesday.
The NBA released its full schedule during an NBA-TV special, and the team with the league’s longest active playoff drought — nine seasons — opens up at home Wednesday, Oct. 30 against Orlando. Four of Minnesota’s first six games are at the Target Center, including matchups with Western Conference playoff incumbents Oklahoma City (Nov. 1) and Golden State (Nov. 6).
It’s a fairly balanced slate in terms of travel, with a five-game road swing from Feb. 22-March 3 serving as the Timberwolves’ longest. They’ll play four consecutive road games from Jan. 21-28.
Two four-game home stands appear on the schedule.
The toughest stretch comes early. In a 2 ½-week span from Nov. 20-Dec. 7, Minnesota plays the stalwart Los Angeles Clippers, a revamped Brooklyn squad, Dwight Howard-powered Houston, scrappy Eastern Conference runner-up Indiana, Denver, Dallas, championship-caliber Oklahoma City and wraps up the jaunt with games against defending Western Conference champion San Antonio and back-to-back NBA Finals winner Miami.
The San Antonio matchup is in Mexico City on Dec. 4, while LeBron James and the Heat make their lone Target Center Appearance on Dec. 7.
Minnesota’s 25th season includes 13 nationally-televised games — eight by NBA TV and five by ESPN. Neither ABC nor TNT, the league’s other two national carriers, are scheduled to broadcast a Timberwolves game.
FOX Sports North’s Timberwolves television schedule will be released at a later date.
NBA TV will carry Minnesota’s games Dec. 4 against San Antonio, Dec. 16 at Boston, Dec. 27 against Washington, Jan. 24 at Golden State, Jan. 25 at Portland, Jan. 27 at Chicago, Feb. 10 against Houston and April 14 at Golden State. ESPN plans to show clashes Nov. 15 at Denver, Dec. 20 at the Los Angeles Lakers, Feb. 7 at New Orleans, Feb. 19 vs. Indiana and March 5 vs. New York.
The Nets’ Nov. 22 trip marks Kevin Garnett’s only return to the Twin Cities this season. Other home games of note include Portland on Dec. 18, Oklahoma City on Dec. 1 and Jan. 4, Memphis on Jan. 31, Houston on April 11, the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 20 and March 31, the Lakers on Feb. 4 and March 28 and Indiana on Feb. 19.
Fans that work Wednesday and Friday evenings may want to talk to their bosses; Minnesota plays 38 games on those two days of the week, including 19 Wednesday home games. The Timberwolves have 42 weekend games (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and play just one Thursday contest.
Because of the television broadcast schedule, Minnesota plays before 5 p.m. Central time just once: a 2:30 p.m. home matinee Sunday, March 23 against Phoenix.
When they tip off at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30 against the Magic, the Timberwolves will open a season inside the Target Center for the 13th straight year. The Timberwolves are 14-10 all-time in season-commencing contests and 12-4 when they’re played at home.