Will Warriors finish ahead of Minnesota, Phoenix?

August 21, 2012, 1:10 am
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This is part 2 of a three-part series in which NBA Insider Matt Steinmetz takes a look at the six Western Conference teams the Warriors will be competing with for the final two spots in the playoffs.

Keep in mind that Steinmetz is assuming Oklahoma City, L.A. Lakers, L.A. Clippers, Memphis, San Antonio, and Denver will hold down the top six spots in the Western Conference, and that the Warriors will definitely finish ahead of Sacramento and New Orleans.

Part 1 compared the Warriors to the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets.

Part 3 will pit the Warriors against Portland and Utah (coming Tuesday morning).

Minnesota TimberwolvesWhile the Timberwolves roster is intriguing, its also a little bit unknown. Their best player, Kevin Love, can stuff the boxscore with stats but he is still working on making teammates better.Many wonder whether a team with Love as its best player can be successful.Love had a terrific season in 2011-12, but his effectiveness and efficiency went down when point guard Ricky Rubio got hurt. Rubio wont be ready by the start of the regular season, and thats a factor for a team thats going to need a lot to go right to make the postseason.The hope is Rubio will be back around December and for the T-Wolves sake he better be. The T-Wolves were 21-19 when Rubio went down with injury; they finished the season 26-40.Minnesota also needs Brandon Roy to resemble the player he once was and for Andrei Kirilenko to do the same.Can the T-Wolves make the playoffs? Yes, but its not going to be easy. What do you think?Phoenix SunsReports of the Suns demise have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, they lost Steve Nash and thats going to hurt, but Phoenixs roster has no shortage of legitimate players.Goran Dragic is no Nash, but hes not bad, either. And having rookie Kendall Marshall backing him up is a nice little combination. What the Suns also have is size on the interior in Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola, a notorious Warriors killer. And if Jermaine ONeal can give the Suns anything, it will be a bonus.What the Suns did do this offseason is overpay for Michael Beasley, giving him a three-year, 18 million deal. But when you throw Beasley alongside Jared Dudley, Shannon Brown, Markieff Morris and Wes Johnson, you realize that the Suns didnt drop off the map.Phoenix went 33-33 a season ago, and its not out of the realm of possibility they could hover around .500 this upcoming season. But the question is: Do they have enough to make the playoffs?