Skip to main content
Publish date:

Check out the Wolves' clinching and elimination scenarios

Jimmy Butler's return keyed a huge win in L.A. Friday night.

Jimmy Butler played for the first time since tearing his meniscus in February and the Timberwolves turned a a 7-point halftime deficit into a 17-point win, 113-96, over the Lakers in Los Angeles Friday night. 

For Minnesota, it sets up some new clinching scenarios that will become even clearer after the Nuggets play the Clippers Saturday afternoon. 

In the simplest form, the only way Minnesota doesn't make the playoffs is if they get passed by Denver. The Clippers can no longer pass the Wolves thanks to tiebreaker rules. 

Denver, however, is just a half game behind the Wolves for the eighth and final playoff spot. 

Games remaining: 

  • Nuggets: at Clippers Saturday, vs. Blazers Monday, at Wolves Wednesday. 
  • Wolves: vs. Grizzlies Monday, vs. Nuggets Wednesday

Here are clinching/elimination scenarios for Minnesota: 

  • If Denver loses to the Clippers, they will be one game behind Minnesota with two games to go. That would set up a scenario Monday where the Wolves would clinch with a win over Memphis combined with a Nuggets loss to Portland. 
  • If Denver beats the Clippers and Portland, and Minnesota loses to Memphis, the Wolves could still clinch a playoff spot with a victory over Denver on Wednesday. 
  • If Denver beats the Clippers but loses to Portland, Minnesota can clinch with a win over Memphis. In this case, the season finale would be meaningless because the best Denver could do is tie Minnesota, and the Wolves would own the tiebreaker – best division record. 

Head-to-head record wouldn't serve as the tiebreaker in this scenario, because they would be 2-2 against each other. That's why Denver's game Monday against Portland is critical. A win would push Denver's division record to 9-6. A loss would drop that record to 8-7. Minnesota has already finished 9-6 in the division. 

If they have the same divisional record and finish tied, the next tiebreaker is conference winning percentage, which the Wolves would win. 

Knowing all of this, your mind is probably spinning, so we're not even going to try to explain how the Wolves can still move all the way up to fourth in the Western Conference. 

Next Up

D'Angelo Russell

With KAT out, Timberwolves can't upset Nets

D'Angelo Russell stepped up but couldn't overcome Brooklyn's firepower.

Everson Griffen Vikings dot com

Everson Griffen confirms he has bipolar disorder

"I’ve been running from it a long time. I’m not ashamed of it anymore.”

Angela Renee Jones, St. Cloud murder suspect

St. Cloud suspect now charged in two local murder cases

Both murders happened within a day of each other in June.

st anthony 3 crop

Twin Cities police ask for help finding missing 16-year-old

Police say all her family and friends have been contacted, and none of them know where she is.

mpd suspect 12.3.21 - 1 - CROP

MPD releases photos of shooting suspect, asks for public's help

The man is wanted in connection with a fatal shooting that happened Wednesday evening.

redmons popcorn colbert 2

Support grows for Redmon's Popcorn after shop's sudden closure

The county also commented on the situation, saying it hopes to help owner Zack Redmon.

prior lake high school

Prior Lake HS investigating another 'racist' video involving student

The principal said the social media video was reported to them this week.

Screen Shot 2021-12-03 at 3.08.27 PM

Walz: Minnesota has secured 1 million rapid, at-home COVID tests for kids

It comes as the delta variant continues to surge in Minnesota, and the omicron variant might follow.

boundary waters

Forest Service limiting permits to BWCAW due to damage, overcrowding

Visitors have been cutting down trees and have been forced to compete for campsites.

police lights

Lockdown update: Armed man threatened to go to Kimball High School

A high school and elementary school near St. Cloud went into lockdown as a precaution.

chaska sewer

People in Chaska are flushing the wrong crap down the toilet

Water and sewer crews in Chaska have had to clean the same pump four times in the past seven days.


Wolves lose in Denver, now the pressure is on

Perhaps Jimmy Butler will make his return Friday in L.A.?

Here's how the Wolves can clinch by Friday night

A loss Thursday to Denver would put a ton of pressure on MN.

Butler, Teague out for Halloween matchup with Jazz

The newest chapter in the Jimmy Butler saga.

Butler calls out Wolves teammates: 'I don't like it'

"Teams just do whatever they want against us." - Butler