Forget the play-in, Timberwolves have wide open path to top-six seed

A play-in tournament appearance seemed like a reasonable goal for the Timberwolves at the season’s outset.

The Western Conference is often deep and talented, with eight-plus good teams in any given season. But finishing among the top 10 given the team’s talent level was a fair expectation. If the Wolves could make the jump to win approximately half their games, that would equal a successful season they could build off of moving forward.

But as seasons progress, so too do circumstances. The Timberwolves are about where many pegged them to be at this point, just a breath below .500 and competitive on a nightly basis. But so much of the Western Conference has folded around them.

Minnesota’s 21-22 mark would’ve placed it 12th in the Eastern Conference as of Monday afternoon, yet it stood in seventh place in the West. Suddenly, a top-six seed that would allow the Wolves to bypass the play-in tournament and move directly into the playoffs looks not only feasible, but likely?

Currently in sixth is a Denver team that’s missing two of its top three players. The Nuggets still have reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, but Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are likely out until at least April.

Minnesota entered Monday tied with a Lakers team that could be without Anthony Davis for two more weeks.

The Clippers have fallen to ninth in the conference without Paul George, whose elbow injury situation appears rather ominous…

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