When the Western Conference playoff hopes meet in San Francisco on Sunday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors will aim to remove themselves from the NBA’s play-in tournament.
When the teams meet for the fourth and final game this season, playoff position, the outcome of the season series, and playoffs tiebreakers will all be at stake, with Golden State having won two of the first three encounters.
Warriors and Wolves will battle in an NBA matchup aimed at enhancing their postseason chances.
The Warriors (39-36) and Timberwolves (37-37) entered the weekend on opposite sides of the Western Conference’s play-in line, with Golden State sitting sixth and Minnesota seventh.
Sunday’s victory would go a long way toward ensuring the Warriors finish ahead of the Timberwolves in the standings. It would not only create a lead of 2 1/2 games with only six games remaining, but it would also give Golden State the tiebreaker in the season series.
A Timberwolves victory, on the other hand, would reduce their lead to a half-game, even the season series, and give Minnesota an edge in the second playoff tiebreaker — conference record — with both teams opening Sunday’s action at 25-20.
The Timberwolves have won two in a row, with Wednesday’s 125-124 home thriller versus the Atlanta Hawks possibly being the most significant game of the season.
Not only did the Timberwolves escape a 38th loss, which would have dropped them at least two positions in the Western rankings, but Karl-Anthony Towns returned following a 51-game absence due to a right calf injury.
Towns produced 22 points to the victory in 26 minutes, reserving his two most significant points for a pair of game-winning free throws with 3.6 seconds remaining.
Warriors and Wolves meet together to boost their playoff prospects
“This is the stuff of movies. Just after the final buzzer, Towns said into a live microphone in front of Timberwolves supporters, “This is what movies are made of!” “After four months away, I return with two free throws, so don’t worry. I have it.”
Chuck Finch, head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, has stated that Karl-Anthony Towns will be on a minutes limit in upcoming games, so it’s probable he won’t play both ends of a back-to-back that concludes in Sacramento on Monday.
No indication has been provided as to which game Towns may miss, but due to the Timberwolves’ proximity to the Warriors in the standings, the matchup against the Warriors is far more significant.
Wednesday was the third consecutive game in which Minnesota played without Anthony Edwards due to an injured right ankle. He was cleared to return to practice on Friday, but he missed that session due to an illness, leaving him uncertain for the Golden State matchup.
The Warriors remain without Andrew Wiggins due to personal reasons, but Gary Payton II, who was acquired from Portland in February, might make his Warriors debut. Payton was suffering with an adductor ailment, but he is expected to play against Minnesota.
Payton participated in a Warriors practice on Saturday and proclaimed himself ready to play for the first time since a February 8 game between the Trail Blazers and Warriors.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr expressed his excitement for the addition.
“He’s so excellent on the ball, but he’s also good off the ball and in the passing lanes,” said Kerr of the defensive superstar. Gary is also an excellent transition finisher. This year, we are either last or near the bottom in transition points per possession, which is unacceptable.
The Warriors have gained ground in the Western Conference rankings with three consecutive victories, including Friday’s 120-112 home victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.