The Minnesota Timberwolves are in the midst of a hectic battle for the playoffs in the Western Conference. With seeds four through twelve all within a game or two of each other, massive change is taking place to the playoff picture every night.
To say every game is must-win for the Wolves at this point would be an understatement. With how close the West currently is, a single win is enough to vault them multiple spots in the standings, while just one loss could cause them to topple several places toward the bottom of the play-in picture.
With so many implications in each game played, fans of Minnesota are tuning in every night to see how other teams’ performances will make the Timberwolves’ road harder or easier. The Western Conference is set up for a photo finish, and it is looking likely that the final playoff matchups will come down to the last day of the regular season on April 9.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have one huge advantage over their Western Conference foes.
As the teams in the West shift up and down with their playoff and play-in opponents still unknown, the Timberwolves will be able to take some comfort in one massive advantage they have: Minnesota holds the tiebreaker over nearly all of the teams they are contending for a playoff spot with.
The Wolves have already secured tiebreakers over the Clippers, Lakers, Thunder and Mavericks. By season’s end, they can own the tiebreaker over the Suns, Warriors, Pelicans and Jazz as well. Whether they secure it over the Warriors and Jazz will depend on each team’s record against the Western Conference, since Minnesota finished 2-2 against both those teams in the regular season.
Meanwhile, the final regular season contests against Phoenix and New Orleans will play a part in determining the tiebreaker with the Suns and Pelicans. Minnesota can clinch the tiebreaker over Phoenix with a win next Wednesday and by finishing with a better record in the conference. The Suns and Wolves are currently tied in the loss column against the Western Conference.
Earning every tiebreaker in the West would be a massive achievement for Minnesota.
If the Timberwolves finish the season strong and knock out NOLA in game 82, they will wrap up a regular season full of wins in crucial games against conference foes. As frustrating as some of their losses were, they managed to win a lot of the games that truly mattered, and they may be amply rewarded come season’s end.
In an incredibly tight Western Conference where the difference between success and failure is being decided by the slimmest of margins, Minnesota may very well finish significantly higher in the standings than expected just because of their edge in tiebreakers.
We have seen entire NBA postseasons be altered because of matchup favorability in the past, and the Timberwolves are putting themselves in position to potentially draw a much more manageable matchup two weeks from now. In due time, we could see this one seemingly minute factor change the course of the season in Minnesota.