Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jalen Williams (8) celebrates with forward Jaylin Williams (6) and guard Josh Giddey (3) during the first half of the team's NBA basketball play-in tournament game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Thunder and Timberwolves Set to Battle for Final Spot in the West

With the NBA playoffs beginning Saturday, there is one more spot up for grabs in the Western Conference. The eighth seeded Minnesota Timberwolves and the tenth seeded Oklahoma City Thunder are set to battle it out Friday night for the final spot in the West playoffs.

Timberwolves On the Hunt

With the format of the NBA’s play-in tournament, the eighth-seeded Wolves get a second shot at the playoffs. This matchup comes following the team’s 108-102 overtime loss to the Lakers in Tuesday’s play-in matchup.

In the loss, Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert was sidelined following a suspension due to an altercation with teammate Kyle Anderson. With him sidelined, the Wolves missed contribution from a player who averaged 13.4 points and 11.6 rebounds on the season. Three-time all-star Karl-Anthony Towns led the team with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Mike Conley added in 23 points in four assists in the loss.

Anthony Edwards had an off game, only putting up nine points on 3-17 shooting. He added in eight rebounds. Minnesota can look for him to bounce back Friday against the Thunder to help push them into the playoffs.

Thunder Looking to Make Some Noise

The Oklahoma City Thunder have one of, if not the brightest future in the NBA. The average age of the team is 22.8 years old. The Thunder are led by 24-year-old Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who finished fourth in the league in scoring. Averaging 31.4 points per game this season, he helped the team achieve a 40-42 record and a spot in the play-in.

In order to be in this position for the eighth seed, 10-seeded OKC had to take down the 9-seed New Orleans Pelicans. The trio of Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey and Luguentz Dort put up a monster performance. They scored 32, 31 and 27 points respectively in the 123-118 win.

Towns and Gobert are both doubtful for Friday’s matchup, which would be a huge advantage for this young Thunder squad. Minnesota took the season series, three games to one. Friday night will conclude the play-in tournament before the playoffs kick off Saturday.

About Jack Alperstein

Jack Alperstein is currently a sophomore at the University of Florida studying Sports Journalism.

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