Minnesota Timberwolves: How far can the Wolves go in the playoffs?

Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. dribbles the ball against Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. dribbles the ball against Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports /

At a minimum, the Minnesota Timberwolves have already clinched a spot in the play-in tournament. But how far can they go in the playoffs?

The Minnesota Timberwolves have proven that they can compete with some of the best teams in the league.

If the Wolves end up in the No.7  spot in the Western Conference, they should have a decent shot at making it out of the play-in. They are 2-2 against the New Orleans Pelicans, who are currently No. 10, 3-1 against the ninth-place Lakers, and 1-3 against the No. 8 Clippers.

That being said, if the Wolves do end up in the play-in tournament and eventually make it into the playoffs, how far could they go, and what would be the most favorable and unfavorable matchups?

Timberwolves’ Most Favorable Matchup: Memphis Grizzlies

One of the easier potential matchups for the Wolves would be the Memphis Grizzlies. The Timberwolves are 2-2 against the Grizzlies this season and when it comes to the top three teams in the West, this Memphis team is the least experienced.

That is not to say they would be an easy outcome postseason, they do have 52 wins, after all, with less than 10 games to go in the regular season. Their star player, Ja Morant is also having something of a breakout season.

Even with all their success, they would be an easier matchup for Minnesota than Stephen Curry and the Warriors or Devin Booker and the Suns.

Timberwolves’ Least Favorable Matchup: Phoenix Suns

One team that the Wolves don’t want to face in the first round is the Phoenix Suns. They finished the season 0-3 against the No. 1 team in the West. Even though all three games were losses of 10 points or less, the Wolves would benefit from avoiding the Suns.

The Suns are good at a lot of things, they are top-three in offensive rating and top-three in defensive rating. The Suns are fourth in the NBA in assists per game as well, and matching up the Wolves’ backcourt against one of the best leaders in the NBA in Chris Paul and an MVP-caliber player in Devin Booker would be a tough task.

The Suns made it to the NBA Finals this past season, and they are clearly hungry to get back there. The 60-win team is hitting on every cylinder and they look almost unbeatable.

Who are the Timberwolves most likely to face?

With seven games left in the regular season, they are a half-game behind the No. 6 seed. Four of the seven teams the Wolves will face currently have a record above .500.

Obviously, the hope is for the Wolves to avoid the play-in tournament by securing the No. 6 seed, but the most likely outcome is still that the Wolves end up with the No. 7 spot in the West, compete in the play-in and hopefully face the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs.

If the Wolves end up making it out of the play-in tournament and into the playoffs, this will be only the second playoff berth for Minnesota since the 2003-2004 season, and they’ll absolutely be significant underdogs as the No. 7 seed.

Still, there is a possibility that the Wolves can be competitive in the first round. Minnesota has one of the best scoring benches in the league and that could absolutely prove to be helpful in the playoffs.

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The Timberwolves have improved significantly from last season, but one of the things holding them back is inexperience.