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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2. 2017-18 Boston Celtics

Record: 55-27

Fate: Lost in Eastern Conference Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers

Raw Similarity Score Rank: 6th

Coming in at number two is another iteration of the Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown-led Celtics that sported the best defense in the NBA. During the regular season, their scoring was led by Kyrie Irving who averaged 24.4 points per game. Brown at age 21 and a 19-year-old rookie in Tatum were second and third in points per game respectively. Horford still anchored the frontcourt, and they received defensive contributions from Marcus Morris and Smart.

The Celtics' number one ranked defense carried a statistically below-average offense to the number two seed in the East. In the first round, they dueled the seven-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. In a series where the home team won every game, the Celtics pulled it out in seven games.

In the second round, they were able to take care of the 76ers in five games. This victory led them to the Eastern Conference finals to face Lebron James and the Cavaliers. The Celtics—who were missing Kyrie Irving for the entirety of the playoffs due to injury—put up a heroic effort. Young guard Terry Rozier stepped up in Irving’s absence, and the rookie version of Tatum had some show-stopping moments. Ultimately though, King James would not be denied, and the Cavaliers won games six and seven to advance to the NBA finals.

Optimistically, Timberwolves fans could point to metrics that would suggest that the Timberwolves offense could be more resilient in the playoffs than the 2017-18 Celtics’ offense was. One of the Celtics' biggest weaknesses was their inability to get to the line—something the Timberwolves have done well this season. This has been driven by the Timberwolves' commitment to attacking the rim, they rank 10th in percentage of shots at the rim, whereas the 2017-18 Celtics ranked 24th.