Mike Conley reveals what will give Timberwolves a chance in the playoffs

Mike Conley, Minnesota Timberwolves Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Conley, Minnesota Timberwolves Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports /

While many fans may feel that the Minnesota Timberwolves have disappointed them this season, it is important to remember that a lot can happen in final five weeks of the regular season. Playing in a tight Western Conference, the Wolves will have to play their best basketball of the season to put themselves in a good position for the playoffs.

Minnesota currently stands as the seventh seed in the West, the exact same spot they finished in at the end of the 2021-22 regular season. While last year’s team was an exciting group for a variety of reasons and the fanbase was rightfully attached to them, it can be easy for nostalgia to block out the memory of the very real weaknesses that team had.

One area where the current iteration of the Timberwolves is superior to last year’s version is team defense. Of course, Rudy Gobert is a big part of that being the case. Sure, Rudy may have looked a touch slower a time or two this year, but Minnesota is unquestionably a tougher defensive unit when he is on the floor.

The Timberwolves’ defense can be their focal identity

Mike Conley recently revealed that there was one aspect of the Timberwolves that he was not used to: a team where everyone contributes on the defensive side of the floor. Between the Grizzlies and the Jazz, Conley has played on some high-level teams that went far in the postseason, so hearing him say this certainly reflects well on the talent of this group.

In a year where Minnesota has struggled to form a consistent team identity, being able to hang their hat on their gradually improving defense bodes well for their quest to lock up a playoff spot. The Timberwolves have tenacious defenders all over their roster, and maximizing their talents by locking in defensively every night will give them their best chance at picking up as many W’s as possible from here on out.

Strong team defense can lead to playoff success

When you look at the Timberwolves’ starting lineup, there are obvious defensive standouts like Rudy Gobert, who has won three Defensive Player of the Year awards, and Jaden McDaniels, who is frequently recognized as one of the premier wing defenders in the entire NBA. But on top of the big names, there is additional defensive talent hidden in plain sight.

Anthony Edwards has seen flashes of being an absolutely lethal perimeter defender this season, and is still averaging 1.7 steals per game for the season. Kyle Anderson remains a force defensively as well, bringing a high basketball IQ and sharp instincts with him every time he sets foot on the floor.

If the Timberwolves can truly buy into being a defensive-minded team from here on out, it may be their best chance at locking up a playoff spot and making a run in the postseason. We know that once the playoffs begin, the game slows down and points grow harder to come by. If Minnesota can play to their strengths, they may end up surprising teams when it matters most. And as the old moniker goes: defense wins championships.

Timberwolves strike Gobert Gold in California. light. More