Timberwolves playoff picture: How Minnesota can clinch No. 1 seed in Western Conference bracket

The top seed in the Western Conference is still up for grabs entering the final day of the 2023-24 NBA season.

The Timberwolves, Nuggets, and Thunder are in a three-team race for the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage throughout the West playoffs. The trio is tied for first place entering the final day of the regular season on Sunday.

The Timberwolves have been one of the best teams in the NBA all season. Anthony Edwards has emerged as a certified superstar, while Defensive Player of the Year favorite Rudy Gobert has anchored the league’s top-ranked defense.

All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns has been sidelined since the beginning of March, but he is expected to make his return before the playoffs, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Minnesota may have to pursue the No. 1 seed in the West without KAT, but it appears it will be ready to compete at full strength once the playoffs get underway.

How can the Timberwolves claim the No. 1 seed in the West? The Sporting News breaks down their playoff scenarios below.

MORE: TSN’s Steph Noh makes his 2024 All-NBA Teams picks

Timberwolves playoff scenarios 2024

Following the Timberwolves’ 109-106 win against the Hawks on Friday, and the Nuggets’ loss to the Spurs, Minnesota finds itself in a three-way tie for first place in the West.

Minnesota isn’t in the driver’s seat, however. In the case of a three-way tie of three division opponents, the tiebreaker is total head-to-head records. The Thunder went 5-3 against Denver and Minnesota, Timberwolves went 4-4 and Nuggets 3-5.

If all three teams remained tied after Sunday’s slate, the Thunder would be the No. 1 seed, Timberwolves the No. 2 and Nuggets the No. 3. If the Thunder lose and the Timberwolves and Nuggets win, the Timberwolves will earn the top seed.

The Timberwolves and Nuggets split the season series, so the tiebreaker rolls down to divisional win-loss record (because both teams are in the Northwest Division). That scenario favors the Timberwolves, who have a better divisional record (12-4) than the Nuggets (10-6).

Minnesota also owns the two-way tiebreaker over Oklahoma City. In the event that both the Timberwolves and Thunder win and the Nuggets lose, this would occur.

Minnesota and Oklahoma City split their season series and have identical 12-4 Northwest Division records. The next tiebreaker would be a better overall conference record, and the Timberwolves (37-14) hold that over the Thunder (35-16).

All that to say, Minnesota wins any two-way tiebreaker between the Nuggets and Thunder, but the Thunder win the three-way tiebreaker.

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Timberwolves standings 2024

The Timberwolves are one game back of the Nuggets for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with a 55-25 record. The Thunder are also in the hunt, tied with the Minnesota in the conference standings with an identical record.

Seed Team Record Games back
1 Thunder 56-25
2 Timberwolves 56-25
3 Nuggets 56-25
4 Clippers 51-29 4.5
5 Mavericks 50-31 6
6 Pelicans 48-32 7.5
7 Suns 47-33 8.5
8 Lakers 46-35 10
9 Kings 45-35 10.5
10 Warriors 45-35 10.5

Timberwolves remaining schedule

The Timberwolves have one game remaining in the 2023-24 regular season to decide their playoff seeding.

Date Opponent Time (ET)
April 14 vs. Suns 3:30 p.m.

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