5 Teams most similar to this year's Timberwolves (and how their seasons ended)

Mar 24, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (5) and
Mar 24, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (5) and / Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
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3. 2021-22 Boston Celtics

Record: 51-31

Fate: Lost in NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors

Raw Similarity Score Rank: 7th

It should be encouraging to Timberwolves fans that one team on this list was in the NBA finals as recently as two years ago. Like this year’s Timberwolves, the 2021-22 Celtics sported the number-one-ranked defense in the NBA.

The top seven minute-getters for the Celtics could all be labeled as plus defenders, headlined by 2021 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart. In the frontcourt, the combination of Al Horford and Robert Williams is comparable to that of the Timberwolves with Gobert and Towns in terms of play style—one rim running big and one spacer. However, defensively the Horford and Williams pairing may have provided greater flexibility.

The 2021-22 Celtics won a three-way tiebreaker in the East with the Milwaukee Bucks and the 76ers to earn them the two seed. After quickly disposing of the Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant-led Brooklyn Nets in four games, the Celtics battled through two grueling seven game series to earn themselves a trip to the NBA finals. First up was the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks who the Celtics overcame a 3-2 series deficit to defeat. Next, was the Miami Heat. Led by Jimmy Butler's heroics, the Miami Heat made it interesting but ultimately lost the series in a close game seven.

The Celtics' final test was the three-time champion Warriors. Despite an even series through four games, the Warriors won games five and six to secure themselves yet another championship.

This 2021-22 Celtics team perhaps represents the high end of the Timberwolves ceiling. Their number one ranked defense led them to the finals where they lost to the number two ranked defense. Their offense, however, while not elite, operated at a higher level than the Minnesota Timberwolves offense has this season. Thanks in large part to more second-chance opportunities and a lower turnover rate.