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The battle for the 4-6 seeds in the Western Conference remains very tight entering the final two weeks of the regular season, and the Timberwolves' last realistic shot at contending for the 4 or 5 comes Friday night in a rematch with Dallas. 

Entering play Friday, the Mavericks (45-28) control the No. 5 seed, followed by Denver (43-31) at No. 6 and the Wolves (42-32) at No. 7. Utah (45-28) is in the No. 4 position, also just 3.5 games ahead of Minnesota and tied with the Mavericks. 

If Minnesota can beat Dallas Friday night, they'll be a half-game behind Denver for the six and 2.5 games behind Dallas for the five. If Minnesota wins and Utah loses at Charlotte, the Wolves would also be only 2.5 games behind the Jazz for the 4. 

But a loss would drop the Wolves 4.5 games behind Dallas with only seven games to go, which is essentially the nail in the coffin for any hopes of rising higher than the No. 6 seed. 

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Getting a top six seed is critical because it avoids the play-in scenario that 7-10 teams face. The good news is that the Wolves don't have to deal with a one-and-done scenario because they can't fall any lower than No. 8, and if they don't pass the Nuggets and/or Mavericks, they are virtually guaranteed to finish No. 7. 

The play-in between No. 7 and No. 8 will see the winner advance to face the No. 2 seed (currently Memphis) in a best-of-seven series. 

The loser of the 7-8 matchup would face the winner of the 9-10 play-in game. The winner of that would advance to play the No. 1 Phoenix Suns in a best-of-seven series. 

All in all, Minnesota is guaranteed at least two playoff games, but they have to win one of them to earn themselves a full series. 

If we refine our view and focus solely on the Minnesota-Denver fight for the No. 6 seed, the Nuggets have the edge because of a much softer schedule. 

Denver has eight games remaining and five are against teams currently in position to make the playoffs, but two of those five are the Wolves and Grizzlies while the other three are the lowly Lakers (twice) and the barely-above-.500 Hornets. 

Minnesota's final eight begins with a murderer's row of the Mavericks, Celtics, Raptors and Nuggets, followed by the Rockets, Wizards, Spurs and Bulls. The Rockets, Wizards and Spurs aren't good, but the other five all have at least 41 wins and are playoff teams. 

Friday scoreboard watching

Utah Jazz at Charlotte Hornets - 6 p.m. 

Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves - 7 p.m. 

Saturday scoreboard watching

Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver Nuggets - 8 p.m. 

Sunday scoreboard watching

Minnesota Timberwolves at Boston Celtics - 5 p.m. 

Utah Jazz at Dallas Mavericks - 6:30 p.m. 

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