The Minnesota Timberwolves scored a 112-106 overtime victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night to capture the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and finalize the field for the NBA playoffs.

2018 NBA Playoffs
The Warriors will be without Steph Curry for the first round of the NBA playoffs, putting more pressure on Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Kevin Durant, among others. (Image: Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The Chronicle)

While 15 of the 16 playoffs teams had been determined before the final night, Minnesota (47-35) and Denver (46-36) played what amounted to a one-game playoff to wrap up their seasons. The T-Wolves ultimately prevailed in overtime, ending a 14-year run without a playoff appearance for the team.

Ill probably fall asleep tonight and wake up in the middle of the night and start crying, Minnesotas Karl-Anthony Towns said after the game. Itll hit me, what happened.

Rockets, Warriors are Best in the West

While the Minnesota story is inspiring, they arent expected to be much of a factor in the NBA playoffs, with Sportingbet listing them at 150/1 to win a championship this year. The Timberwolves start with a monumental task, taking on the No. 1 seed Houston Rockets in the first round. Houston (6/4) has emerged as a virtual co-favorite to win a championship this year, and beat Minnesota 4-0 in their regular season series.

While they fell to the No. 2 seed, the Golden State Warriors (13/10) remain the overall favorite to win the NBA championship. They would normally be huge favorites to get past the aging San Antonio Spurs (100/1) in the first round, especially with the ongoing questions about Kawhi Leonards availability. But the Warriors are suffering from a rash of injuries as well, and the absence of Steph Curry in the first round could make this series more interesting than expected.

Also in the West, the No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers (40/1) take on the No. 6 New Orleans Pelicans (150/1), while the No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder (40/1) face off with the No. 5 Utah Jazz (50/1). Both should be competitive series, though it remains to be seen if the winners have any chance of threatening the Rockets or Warriors in the second round.

Is The East Up for Grabs?

In the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors (8/1) grabbed the top seed with a steady season that saw them avoid the dramatic ups and downs of some of the other top contenders. On paper, Toronto is a heavy favorite over the Washington Wizards (100/1), but its worth noting that the two teams split their regular season series 2-2.

The second-seeded Boston Celtics (66/1) looked to be a championship contender for most of the season, even after losing Gordon Hayward for the year minutes into their first game. But after also losing All-Star Kyrie Irving, its hard to see the Celtics being very competitive in the later rounds, and they might even have trouble getting by the Milwaukee Bucks (100/1) in their opening matchup.

The Philadelphia 76ers (20/1) are the hottest team in basketball, coming into their playoff series against the Miami Heat (100/1) on a 16-game winning streak. A month ago, nobody would have seen the Sixers as a team that could make a run to the finals, but Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid (expected to return sometime in the next two weeks) could well lead this team deep into the postseason.

Finally, it would be foolish to count out LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers (15/2). While they fell to the No. 4 seed, few expect them to bow out of the playoffs easily, and they are a big favorite to get past the Indiana Pacers (100/1) in the first round, despite the fact that Indiana won three of the four regular season meetings between the teams.

The NBA playoffs begin on Saturday, with the finals scheduled to begin on May 31.

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