The NBA Playoffs Are Underway and the Timberwolves Are Back


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Josh Klopp, Editor

Last week’s play-in tournament cemented the members of the 2022 NBA Playoffs. One of those late-joining members was the Minnesota Timberwolves, making the playoffs for the second time since 2004. In total, this year’s championship is up for grabs more than any recent season. Seasoned veterans and young stars alike will be pushing to the top to take home the Larry O’Brian trophy.

Starting in the Western Conference, the first matchup to look into is the Phoenix Suns against the New Orleans Pelicans. The Suns repeated their success from last year. They set a franchise record with 64 regular season wins and are many people’s favorites to reach the NBA Finals once again. Devin Booker set a career high in points per game (26.8), Chris Paul led the league in assists per game (10.8), and Mikal Bridges put out a case to be Defensive Player of the Year. These facts, combined with the confident coaching of Monty Williams, should easily send Phoenix past the Pelicans and deep into the playoffs.

The second seed in the west is the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are led by the explosive Ja Morant, but the story of their season is how well they did without him. Of the 25 games he missed, the team only lost 5. In these times, Memphis was led by the scoring of Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. Their offense is elite, but not as highly rated as their opponent. The Minnesota Timberwolves had the highest rated offense in the NBA this season. The high scoring trio of Karl Anthony-Towns, Anthony Edwards, and D’Angelo Russel will be pushing to keep games close and give Minnesota a chance to upset the pacey Grizzlies. 

Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will look to make a big splash this postseason. They undoubtedly have the experience and confidence to make a deep run, but will have a tough matchup to start. The Golden State Warriors will face off against the reigning MVP, Nikola Jokic, and the Denver Nuggets. Denver won three of the four regular season games between these teams. They could also be boosted by the reappearance of their star point guard Jamal Murray. With this said, the Warriors will still be favorites to move on to play the winner of the Memphis vs. Minnesota series. 

In what could be considered the series with the least amount of hype, the fourth seed Dallas Mavericks are hosting the fifth seed Utah Jazz. It is not that this series is lacking star power. Luka Doncic is one of the most popular players in the league, but he suffered a calf injury in the final game of the regular season. This will give Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert an opportunity to take over and earn a reward of playing the heavily favored Suns in the second round.

In the Eastern Conference, the top seed may not be the favorite to reach the finals. The number one seed Miami Heat have drawn the play-in winning Atlanta Hawks. Trae Young is a prolific scorer, but Atlanta will likely bow out early. The Heat have a very deep roster that was fortified by the trade deadline acquisitions of Victor Oladipo and Kyle Lowry. Though, they will need the entire roster to perform at their peak to make it out of the east.

The Boston Celtics have been the hottest team in the NBA for some time. They went 28-7 to close out the season and climb to the two seed, led by Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown. They have shown they can do it all. They score and defend. Both will be needed to slow down Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and the Brooklyn Nets.

The defending champion Milwaukee Bucks have faltered throughout the season, but they’ve recently shown that they are still the dominant team that won the championship last season. Their opposition has not. The Chicago Bulls were a fan favorite throughout most of the season, but lost their electricity down the stretch and finished the season by losing 15 of their final 23 games. The Bulls have scoring ability, but don’t have what it takes to slow down Giannis and company.

The last time the Philadelphia 76ers played against the Toronto Raptors in the playoffs, Kawhi Leonard hit a buzzer-beater in Game 7 to send the Raptors to the finals. This series is sure to be much less exciting. James Harden will need to come into form to help Joel Embiid and keep the red hot Raptors from sending them home early.