The 2018 NBA Playoffs are a couple of weeks away, with only a few games left in this year’s regular season. Interesting match ups are taking place in the stacked Western Conference, and one of them is a potential first-round series between the defending champion Golden State Warriors and the new-look Minnesota Timberwolves.
As expected, Golden State is the overwhelming favorite to get out of that series, even without Stephen Curry. However, some NBA analysts think that an upset could possibly happen, and one of them is ESPN’s First Take host Max Kellerman.
Kellerman said that surely the “odds are against” the Timberwolves as they face the Warriors, but he believes that Minnesota is more likely to beat Golden State than the Milwaukee Bucks could defeat the Boston Celtics in the East. He then continued that Tom Thibodeau’s squad has a “better chance at an upset than people understand.”
The analyst then explained that injuries to key players would have a significant effect on the series, as Kellerman particularly mentioned Curry’s injury as a potential game-changer.
Following a 106-94 win over the Atlanta Hawks on March 23, Curry was ruled out for at least three weeks after suffering a grade 2 MCL sprain on his left knee. The two-time NBA MVP scored 29 points during that game, as he just returned from a six-game absence recovering from a sprained right ankle.
Aside from Curry, the other three Warriors All-Stars, namely Kevin Durant (rib fracture), Klay Thompson (right thumb sprain), and Draymond Green (pelvic contusion), are also dealing with separate injuries that might also make them miss the early part of the postseason.
After saying that the coaching matchup between Thibodeau and Steve Kerr is relatively equal, Kellerman noted that the talent disparity between the two squads would become smaller without Curry. The analyst then said that Golden State’s remaining superstar trio of Durant, Thompson, and Green is only slightly better, talent-wise, than the foursome of Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, and Andrew Wiggins.
Kellerman continued that the gap between Durant and Towns is “not quite as much” as many people think, saying that the latter has become a top ten player in the league. He also said that Butler and Thompson would most likely cancel each other out in terms of talent and overall effectiveness, while Green’s value can be equivalent to the combination of both Wiggins and Teague.
The analyst ended by insisting that the talent gap between the two teams is “not what you think it is when you take Steph (Curry) off Golden State” and the potential Warriors-Wolves match is going to be “a real series.”