NBA Playoffs format, key dates, predictions and more

Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

There are less than two weeks remaining before the end of the 2022-23 NBA regular season. For the Minnesota Timberwolves, the final handful of games will be a wild ride as the team looks to continue their excellent play as of late and avoid the play-in tournament.

For every Western Conference team outside the top three, it will be vital to secure as many wins as possible before the regular season ends. Limping to the finish line will mean missing the playoffs altogether in this extremely tight race.

With the West looking like an absolute free-for-all, the Wolves will have as good a chance as anyone of making a run once the postseason starts. As we gear up for the most exciting time in the NBA season, let’s take a look at how exactly the playoffs will be structured.

NBA Playoffs 2023 format

Most NBA fans have been paying attention the playoffs for some time and know exactly how it is set up. But there have been some recent changes to the postseason format, and not everyone may be aware of the structure.

With the NBA implementing the play-in tournament in 2020, no. 7 and no. 8 seeds in each conference no longer get an automatic bid into the postseason. Instead, what used to be the last two guaranteed playoff teams must now compete in a four-team single-elimination tournament to earn their way into the playoff field.

The no. 7 and no. 8 seed from each conference square off against one another while the no. 9 and no. 10 seeds also go head to head. The winner of the no. 7 vs no. 8 game advances to the playoffs as the no. 7 seed, while the loser of the 7/8 game must play the winner of the 9/10 matchup to battle for the right to the no. 8 seed. The loser of the 9/10 game is eliminated.

After that, the no. 1 seed in each conference takes on the no. 8 seed, the no. 2 seed faces the no. 7 seed, the no. 3 seed plays the no. 6 seed, and the no. 4 seed battles the no. 5 seed. Each playoff matchup is a best four-out-of-seven series. After the first round concludes, the winners move onto the conference semifinals, then the conference finals, then the NBA Finals.

When does each round of the NBA Playoffs start?

After the NBA regular season concludes on Sunday, April 9, the play-in tournament will commence and run between April 11-14. The first round of the playoffs will officially begin the following day, April 15.

A little over two weeks later, the conference semifinals will start on May 1-2, with the possibility of being moved up to April 29-30 depending on the length of each first-round series. Similarly, the conference finals are set to begin May 16-17, but could be moved up to May 14-15.

Game 1 of the NBA Finals will be on June 1, with the Finals concluding no later than June 18.

Will the Minnesota Timberwolves make the playoffs?

There are currently a lot of factors at play that will determine where the Minnesota Timberwolves end up come April 9. While the Wolves can not control what the other teams around them do, if they continue playing at a high level they can give themselves an excellent chance of not just making the playoffs, but earning a top-six seed to avoid landing in the play-in.

They have given themselves a major advantage by holding tiebreakers over several of their Western Conference rivals. Even if they end up with the same amount of wins and losses as multiple teams, there is a strong chance they will jump their opponents, which could make a world of a difference.

Overall, Minnesota has looked like a completely different team since the trade deadline. Mike Conley appears to be a much better fit next to Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns has finally returned to the lineup, and Anthony Edwards continues to elevate his level of play. The Timberwolves should absolutely end up in the playoffs, with an ever-increasing chance of earning a top-six seed as well.

Next. 10 Worst free agent signings in Timberwolves history. dark