The Minnesota Timberwolves’ magical season has given massive hope for their fans. The franchise has not made it out of the first round of the postseason since the 2003-04 season when Kevin Garnett led them to a Western Conference Finals appearance. Now today, Anthony Edwards, Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns are looking to replicate that deep run in the 2024 NBA playoffs.

With the Timberwolves still fighting for the top seed in the West, let’s evaluate the Minnesota's nightmare seeding scenario and matchups the team should hope to avoid.

Timberwolves aren’t afraid of anybody

While certain postseason matchups are definitely easier than others, the Timberwolves are internally confident with their chances against any postseason team. Chris Finch was asked if he’s felt a different level of competitiveness from opponents this season due to their stellar record. Minnesota's head coach shared an interesting perspective on the subject.

“I’m not sure anyone fears us,” Finch said. “Likewise, we don’t fear anyone either.”

Due to the Timberwolves’ franchise history and some false narratives around their two big men, it’s understandable why they aren’t the most feared team in the league. However, Finch made it clear that they trust their personnel and can matchup with anybody. To his credit, Minnesota has done just that this season.

Race for the one seed

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) before the game against the San Antonio Spurs at Ball Arena.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

With two wins over the Denver Nuggets this season and a close loss without their star big men, the Wolves have proven they have what it takes to battle the reigning champion.

Likewise, Minnesota split the season series with the Oklahoma City Thunder, an extremely young team that has given the rest of the NBA a run for their money. While the Timberwolves should feel confident in a potential playoff matchup with these two teams, it would be best to avoid one of them altogether.

The race of the one seed is more important than just home court advantage. With Minnesota, OKC and Denver slotted into the top three spots, the second round of the postseason becomes a tough challenge for the two and three seeds.

If the Wolves lock up the number one seed, the Nuggets and Thunder would be forced to face each other in the second round assuming both advance past the first round. For a chance at the Finals, Minnesota’s likelihood of winning the West would drop significantly as the two or three seed in comparison to holding the top spot in the conference.

Timberwolves’ nightmare playoff matchups in round one

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts after the Mavericks missed a three point attempt late in the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors at the Chase Center.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Despite the Wolves’ wonderful season, they still do have to prove it in the postseason. With everyone’s record resetting to 0-0, no one is safe once the postseason begin. Minnesota has been dominant this season, but there are a few teams that present more problems than others.

At times this year, the Timberwolves have struggled to contain off-ball movement shooters. Players like Luke Kennard, Norm Powell and others have had big scoring nights against Minnesota’s stingy defense.

With that being the case, the Golden State Warriors do remain a small threat. The Timberwolves are the better team significantly. Minnesota has dominated the season series with Golden State. However, if the Wolves do clinch the top seed, facing four-time champions as their reward would feel wrong.

Klay Thompson and Steph Curry rank number one and two in the league in points scored working off of off-ball screens. The attention those two draw present a unique challenge compared to the other potential playoff opponents.

The Wolves’ premier point of attack defense and rim protection is a key weapon, but the Warriors’ playstyle can free up just enough space for two of the best shooters in NBA history. The Timberwolves’ would likely beat Golden State convincingly as the better team, but if Thompson or Curry get hot from deep, the series could extend longer than it should.

In the event the Timberwolves do fall to the three seed, a potential matchup with the Dallas Mavericks is likely the worst case scenario. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving both missed the two games in Minnesota this season, but Doncic alone has a playoff track record that is undeniable.

Leading the Mavs to a Western Conference Finals berth in 2022, Doncic overpowered the Utah Jazz led by Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell in round one and wiped away the Phoenix Suns in round two.

With new reinforcements in the form of PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford, Dallas looks quite a bit different than they did in earlier matchups this season. While Chris Finch has effectively forced the ball out of Doncic’s hands by blitzing high-ball screens, that can still be a dangerous game to play.

Willingly giving up four-on-three situations on the backside will allow Irving and company to play in advantage for a majority of the series. The Timberwolves have the tools to beat Dallas, however, it’s not a fun task trying to beat Luka Doncic in a playoff setting.