MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – While Timberwolves fans are excited at the prospect of postseason play, the team hasn’t quite made the playoffs yet.
The Wolves will play the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night in a play-in game, the NBA’s relatively new prelude to the postseason.
As the 7th seed in the Western Conference, the Wolves have the top spot in the play-in. Aside from the 8-seeded Clippers, the New Orleans Pelicans (9) and San Antonio Spurs (10) are also in the play-in tournament.
The tourney features a slightly confusing format with a wide range of possible outcomes, so let’s break down the Wolves’ potential paths to the playoffs.
SCENARIO 1: Win and in
If the Wolves beat the Clippers on Tuesday night, they’re in the playoffs as the 7th seed. That would mean a matchup with the No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies.
SCENARIO 2: Lose to Clippers, win the second game
A loss to the Clippers doesn’t totally eliminate the Wolves from the playoffs. In the play-in format, the 7th and 8th seeds have basically earned double elimination. With a loss to Los Angeles, the Wolves would play the winner of the Spurs-Pelicans game on Friday. The winner of that third game earns the 8th playoff seed and a series with the Phoenix Suns, the NBA’s best team this season.
SCENARIO 3: Lose to Clippers, lose the second game
If the Wolves lose on Tuesday and also lose the subsequent matchup with the Spurs or Pelicans, their season is over and they miss the playoffs.
To boil it down:
– Win 1st game: In the playoffs as 7th seed
– Lose 1st game, win 2nd: In the playoffs as 8th seed
– Lose both games: Out of the playoffs
The actual NBA playoffs begin Saturday. Should the Wolves make it there, it would be just the second time in the last 18 years.