No matter what happens Friday, Wolves have exceeded expectations

Now is the time to dissect. To theorize and agonize. To imagine possibilities and lament missed chances.

The Timberwolves are in the thick of a playoff series — an interesting one, and the first one you might imagine they could win in 18 years.

But there will also come a time to take a step away from this Timberwolves season and take a 30,000-foot view, to borrow an annoying corporate phrase.

That time could come as soon as late Friday if Memphis prevails in Game 6 at Target Center. It might happen Sunday if the Wolves win Friday but lose Game 7. It might come later.

But it will happen. The Wolves’ season will be over at some point. And when that moment comes, particularly if it comes sooner rather than later, it will be helpful to remember this: Their season was a success long before it ended.

Sometimes we lose sight of the big picture, so let’s consider:

*Betting markets before the season started expected the Wolves to win somewhere in the neighborhood of 34 or 35 games.

I implored readers not to bet the “over,” noting how few times in history the Wolves had met that mark. Sorry! They beat the over-under total by 11, finishing with 46 wins.

*The common goal you would hear from fans and even some within the organization was that Minnesota would at least compete for a play-in spot. Sure, aspiring to be at least 10th-best in a 15-team conference is a low bar, but the Wolves have failed to clear a lot of low bars in their history.

By the All-Star break, it was pretty clear the Wolves would at least by a play-in team. They wound up as the No. 7 seed, technically in the play-in but in a position that yielded a top-8 playoff spot in past years.

Then they beat a veteran team, the Clippers, in the play-in. And they have been involved in the NBA’s best playoff series against Memphis.

Maybe this all sounds too positive right now. You’re still upset about those blown leads in Games 3 and 5. You’re too nervous about what’s going to happen in Game 6.

That’s fine. Like I said, the time will come for all of this to be remembered.

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