Ranking the Wolves potential first-round opponents based on difficulty

These teams are ones the Wolves should hope to avoid.
Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns
Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
1 of 4

As the NBA regular season winds down with only 10 games remaining, teams are jockeying in the final stretch to get the best matchup in the first round of the playoffs. As it stands, the Minnesota Timberwolves are a full five games ahead of the fourth-place Los Angeles Clippers and are tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for second in the Western Conference. Barring some historic collapse, the Wolves will finish the season as a top-3 seed in the conference.

Given that, we know of the gluttony of potential teams that have a chance of playing in the first round of the playoffs. The Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, and Golden State Warriors make up the four through ten seeds. Two of these teams won't even make the playoffs in a rugged Western Conference.

Since there's a seven-team circus yet to fill out the standings, the following squads will be ranked based on the difficulty of the matchup. We'll start with the teams that Minnesota would most likely enjoy competing against.

4. Tie - Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans, LA Clippers, Golden State Warriors

The aforementioned teams would pose as a good matchup for the Wolves in the opening round. First off, the Kings and Pelicans share the same reason why the Wolves would be favored—they have the best player in the series.

Throughout a seven-game series, having the best player bodes well come playoff time. Both of these teams have matched up well with the Wolves this season. But they haven't been handled by the Kings or Pelicans in any of the games. Unlike, say the Wolves have against the Clippers and Warriors.

There has been some discourse around the Kings and Pelicans being poor matchups for the Wolves and there is some validity to that. However, they aren't as battle-tested as the Wolves and haven't been over the last couple of seasons. Logically, that gives the Wolves the edge.

There is a legitimate argument that even against the Warriors and Clippers, Anthony Edwards would be the best player on the hardwood. Nonetheless, given Steph Curry and Kawhi Leonard's playoff track record, the same can't be said.

All in all, the Wolves have gone a combined 7-1 against both the Clippers and Warriors this season. While both teams are veteran-laden, the matchup appears to be better than most.