MINNEAPOLIS -- Between Charlotte’s barrage of three-pointers last week and Washington’s frequent waltzes to the rim Wednesday, Minnesota’s defense has shown a few more cracks of late.

That’s not surprising for a couple of reasons. No. 1, the Wolves are still without veteran guard Patrick Beverley, a defensive specialist. No. 2, they’re playing better teams more likely to expose weaknesses. That won’t relent anytime soon.

More specifically, the Timberwolves will face great offenses moving forward. Their next three opponents are the Nets, whom Minnesota meets Friday in Brooklyn, Atlanta and Utah. Those happen to be the NBA’s top three offenses over the past 10 games.

Seven of Minnesota’s next 10 games are against opponents with top-six offenses over the past 10 games.

To the Wolves’ credit, their improved defense already has successfully limited top-10 offenses on the season in Milwaukee, Miami, Philadelphia and Phoenix. But the likes of Charlotte and Golden State — the only two top-five offenses they have played to date — gave them fits.

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And defending without Beverley makes the challenge all the greater. Minnesota hasn’t been a sieve since Beverley went down with a groin injury that is expected to be re-evaluated late next week, but it’s notable two of the Wolves’ worst defensive performances to date — last week in Charlotte and in Wednesday’s loss to the Wizards — have come without Beverley in the lineup.

“Just don’t think we played with enough effort. I think we came in a little slow,” Karl-Anthony Towns said after Wednesday’s defensive struggles, in which Minnesota allowed 18 dunks. “I think we had a bunch of things that were going on, but no excuses. We have to go out there and play Timberwolves basketball. Like I said, we talk about being the team we say we want to be and it comes with consistency, and this is one of those games we have to be consistent.”

The same will be true moving forward. While the Wolves have been solid defensively for most of the season, potential lapses often don’t show up against the likes of San Antonio, Sacramento or New Orleans. Any holes in Minnesota’s defense will likely be exposed in the upcoming stretch.

“This is what we wanted. This is the challenge we wanted,” Wolves forward Jarred Vanderbilt said. “Just got to lock in, bring the same effort every night and give ourselves the best chance every night.”

That’s the key to defensive excellence in the NBA — you have to be able to bring it on a nightly basis. The improved defensive effort has been the team’s big surprise through the first quarter of the season. But the quality of the upcoming opponents would be enough to break a lot of defenses.

Will the Wolves be up to the challenge? Minnesota coach Chris Finch said if the Wolves are trying to do what they want to do and go where they want to go, “you got to play and beat these teams.”

And you have to defend against them, even if you’re down one of your best defenders.

That challenge may concern some people. But, to no one’s surprise, it does not concern second-year guard Anthony Edwards.

“We’ve got nothing to worry about,” he said. “We’re just as good as every other team in the league, so I don’t think this month will be tough at all. We’re just as good as any team you can name.”