What To Watch For
How does playoff basketball in March sound?
That’s exactly the type of situation the Timberwolves have suddenly found themselves, as basically every game the rest of the regular season will have major implications as to where Minnesota starts their postseason play next month. As you know by now, if the Wolves are unable to secure a top-six seed in the Western Conference, they will be the 7th seed and therefore host one (or possibly two) play-in games to determine their playoff seeding. Win one of those two (which will both be at Target Center) and you’re in. Lose them both, and... well, let’s not get into that possibility today.
So let's say the Wolves have a 65% chance of beating the Clippers in the 7 v. 8 play-in game. And let's say if they lose to the Clippers that they have a 70% of beating the Lakers/Pels in the second play-in— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) March 22, 2022
Mathematically, that's a 90% chance of getting out of the play-in.
I thought Dane Moore did a really good job of detailing the Wolves various % chances at each postseason slot and what that could mean for a potential playoff series. To sum up Dane’s tweets, while the play-in game does come with added stress and risk (losing both play-in games eliminates you from the postseason), it does also likely come with a potential matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies in the 7 vs. 2 series, which would probably (maybe?) be the Timberwolves most ideal first round opponent (the Suns are WAY too good and the Warriors — if healthy — are probably a few tiers above Minnesota as well).
On the other side of the ledger — the Phoenix Suns. Simply put, the Suns have been playing chess while the rest of the league has been playing checkers this season, and at 58-14, they currently have a NINE game lead on the second best record in the NBA. In the words of Larry David, that’s “pretty, pretty, pretty good.”
The Suns will be without both Cam Johnson and Chris Paul tonight (more on that in a second), but despite CP3’s absence, the Suns have continued to roll, which is probably one of the many reasons that Monty Williams is currently the odds on favorite to win Coach of the Year (he should have won it last year but some voters fell for the Tom Thibodeau Kool-Aid. By the way... how is Thibs’ team doing this year? Oh really? Shocking!)
So it’s Timberwolves and Suns tonight in what should be another electric atmosphere at Target Center. If you’re heading to the arena, give yourself plenty of time to get to your seats, and if you’re watching from home like I am, be sure to mix in a glass of wine or two and have a fantastic Wednesday night watching playoff-level basketball.
Minnesota @Timberwolves Status Report in advance of tomorrow’s game vs Phoenix:— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) March 22, 2022
Towns - Right Forearm Contusion
McDaniels - Left Ankle Sprain
Wright IV - G League, Two-Way
The first thing I thought of when seeing the latest injury report was “phew, no Anthony Edwards.” If you’ll remember, ANT banged his hip at the end of the third quarter against the Mavericks, so I was a little scared we might see his name pop up. He’s good, so therefore we’re good.
Karl-Anthony Towns is once again listed as QUESTIONABLE with a right foreman contusion. KAT had his wrist wrapped postgame on Monday, and I’d imagine this is just a nagging injury that lingers for another week or so. I’d once again bet my morning coffee on Towns suiting up tonight, which will be crucial as the Wolves host the best team in the league.
As for the Phoenix Suns...
UPDATED: #Suns All-Star Chris Paul 'closer' to returning, but ruled out Wednesday at T-Wolves— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) March 22, 2022
Cam Johnson (quad) is also listed out, but Cameron Payne (non-COVID illness) and Jae Crowder (ankle) aren't on the team's injury report (w/video) https://t.co/vBgEtlSXKg via @azcentral
Stop me if you’ve heard this before — the Timberwolves are catching a break when it comes to injured opponents. Chris Paul has been out for a while now with that thumb injury, but rumors are his return to the court is drawing closer and closer. As for Cameron Johnson, he’ll be out tonight due to a quadriceps injury, and Frank Kaminsky is still out after recovering from knee surgery back in January.
Prediction time — I’ve hit my last 7 of these, so why stop now? The Wolves are essentially a pick ‘em tonight (i.e. the line is small enough where you really have to just trust that Minnesota is going to win outright), and guess what? I DO think the Wolves win outright. It’s going to be a dog fight no doubt, but the injury to Cam Johnson is sneaky huge, and should provide the Suns one less wing player to try and slowdown the Timberwolves’ guards. Wolves 126, Suns 120.
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