The Timberwolves had to win their final three games, including a play-in showdown with the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, just to get into the playoff field. A couple of first-round series are expected to be one-sided, but there are only a handful of matchups in which only one team seemingly has a real chance to advance to the conference semifinals. Hell no. Can they make it to the conference finals?
Suggestions the combination of Chris Paul and leading MVP candidate James Harden would not work have been emphatically brushed aside, with the Rockets entering the playoffs with the best record in the regular season (65-17).
The regular season ended with a flourish. Since then they fell to seventh and they're figuratively knocking on Kawhi Leonard's door for this series.
Lara Saavedra: James Harden actives his beast mode warrior, and crushes everyone in his path until the inevitable Golden State matchup. The Warriors won three of the clubs' four meetings this season.
Oklahoma City will win this series in seven games at home in front of their home fans.
Portland Trail Blazers (-210) vs. The best players on each team, and while they may not go head to head all that much, Oladipo surely knows he has to be fantastic in this series.
Davis is averaging a career-best 28.1 points per game. Expect him to will his team to wins. But we haven't seen that Warriors team in awhile, and Steph Curry won't be back in the first round.
A purely "what if Russell Westbrook and Paul George carry this team on their backs all the way and wouldn't that be so insane to watch?" ranking. Anchored by Rudy Gobert, Utah has the league's second-best defense.
Donovan Mitchell: He's the Rookie of the Year in our book and it really shouldn't be a contest (official Complex Sports debate coming soon) considering he was at Louisville last year and now he's guided the Jazz to the fifth seed in the West which nobody predicted last summer.
Golden State Warriors should be on upset alert as playoffs begin
One of the most interesting teams this season has been the Oklahoma City Thunder.
DeMar DeRozan made some changes to his game this season, most notably attempting more shots from behind the 3-point line. Even with Wall being back, I don't think this Wizards team is great.
What do you remember from the National Basketball Association playoffs in the past?
That's saying something, considering the league went through a great era back in the 1980s and 1990s thanks to some legends named M.J., Magic and Bird.
Just how did OKC slither their way into the fourth seed of the West?
Lucky for them they have an otherworldly talent in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has the potential to leapfrog his franchise to title aspirations.
Boston is missing its two best players (Hayward and Irving) but has one of the game's elite coaches in Brad Stevens. The 76ers are young, brash and backing it up, while the Heat have the confidence of knowing that they can knock off Philly.
The 76ers are riding a 16-game win streak and it's hard not to trust the process. The 76ers should advance, but inexperience and injuries could make this a tougher series than some might imagine it to be.
Bergin: This year marked the first time the Spurs finished with less than 50 wins in a full 82-game season for the first time since 1997. The only player the Timberwolves drafted in the year of their last playoff run was Blake Stepp, who never made the National Basketball Association but played at least three times in the World Series of Poker.