If the playoffs started today, the Minnesota Timberwolves would be the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference with only a few games separating them from the Utah Jazz, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Denver Nuggets. Only the top three seeds in the Western Conference have clinched their spots. Considering how easily these standings can change, Minnesota can go from the No. 8 seed to the No. 4 or possibly not even make the playoffs.
A few months ago, it was nearly impossible to see the Timberwolves coming out of the Western Conference to go to the 2018 NBA Finals, but now it’s a possibility.
Injuries have been the changing factor for many teams recently. This was the case for the Timberwolves in the case of Jimmy Butler. Since late February, fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves have been waiting for Jimmy Butler to return to the court. He had meniscus surgery and on April 6 joined his teammates for the first time in over a month. Butler dropped 18 points on his first day back and looks to produce even more in the last couple games that the Timberwolves have.
In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics were the team to be feared before Kyrie Irving was ruled out for the next few months. To the Timberwolves, the injuries in the West are more important. The main injury being Stephen Curry’s knee. This puts the Golden State Warriors in a fragile state. They still have the firepower of Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, but without their best shooter on the court the offense may struggle. This is where the Timberwolves can strike and try to advance.
The Timberwolves need to climb up from the No. 8 seed at least one spot. If Minnesota can avoid facing the No. 1 seed, Houston Rockets, in the first round then they could make a run for the finals. Defeating the Warriors in the first round is more likely now that Stephen Curry is out. A team that has a strong offense, like Minnesota, can have a chance to beat the Warriors, but they need to do so in the first round, before Curry has a chance to return.
Given that the Timberwolves can get out of No. 8 seed and climb up, they won’t see the Rockets till the Western Conference finals. This means the Rockets must go up against two other teams before facing Minnesota. Those two teams have a chance, although slim, to defeat Houston and therefore clear a path for Minnesota.
The one main strength Minnesota has going right now is that they are an injury free team. Jimmy Butler is healthy playing alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Watch the 2018 NBA playoffs because we may see another Minnesota miracle.