Timberwolves Open NBA Playoffs as 3-Seed Underdogs vs Nightmare Matchup Suns

Minnesota Timberwolves
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves held the first seed in the Western Conference playoff race for the majority of the regular season. But now that the NBA Playoffs are here, the Wolves settle in with the 3-seed in the West, locking them into a first-round playoff matchup with the Phoenix Suns, who just mopped the target center floor with them on Sunday in the regular season finale 125-106.

It’s a doozy of a matchup too, facing off with the three-headed NBA All-Star trio of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal. It’s only fitting that the Timberwolves would be pitted against Durant, Anthony Edwards’ childhood idol. Meanwhile, Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns attended Kentucky together and have remained strong friends ever since. These athletes know each other very well.

Despite holding the higher seed and home-court advantage, the Suns enter round one as slim (-115) favorites to win the best-of-7 series (DraftKings). Minnesota went 37-15 against Western Conference opponents, which is way better than Phoenix’s 29-23 mark, but they lost all three matchups vs their now playoff opponent. Phoenix’s average margin of victory: 15.6 points. Yikes.

Minnesota Timberwolves should feel threatened by Phoenix Suns

Yes, Chris Finch’s Timberwolves have the NBA’s best defense, limiting opponents to 106.5 points per game, but the Suns are a different animal. This is a team that had the fifth-best FG% in the NBA. In the three games Minnesota played against Phoenix, the Suns shot 53% as a team, far better than the league-best 44.9% FG rate the Wolves held teams to all season long.

This might be one of, if not the worst, matchup the Timberwolves could have drawn in the first round of the playoffs. The Suns have three All-Stars and a coach with a championship pedigree.

Let’s not forget that, while this may not be the most ideal matchup, there’s a reason the Suns had to sneak out of the play in tournament in the last game of the season. This is, without a doubt, the most talented Timberwolves roster in franchise history and they’ve earned our faith, no matter the opponent.

Related: NBA Legend Jerry West Gushes Over Timberwolves; Loves Them in Playoffs

The Timberwolves have an outside MVP candidate in Anthony Edwards, the expected Defensive Player of the Year winner in Rudy Gobert, and their third All-Star, Karl-Anthony Towns, is back in the lineup. They’re more than equipped for the challenge; now, it’s just about getting the job done in the playoffs.

The work starts on April 20, when the first day of the NBA Playoffs tip off. This is the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 12th playoff appearance in 35 tries. Can they avoid being bounced out of the first round for the 11th time in franchise history? It’d be a very disappointing end to a season that held so much hope, if not.

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