Nets-Timberwolves: Playoff implications, 3 things to watch

Nets-Timberwolves: Playoff implications, 3 things to watch
Joe Johnson,  Deron Williams
Deron Williams & Joe Johnson lead the Nets against the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight. (AP)

The Nets (38-33) host the Minnesota Timberwolves (36-35) tonight in Brooklyn, in another game crucial for playoff positioning.

Though the Nets making the playoffs is a foregone conclusion at this point, tonight marks their chance to actually clinch the spot. With a Nets win over the Timberwolves and a Knicks loss, the Nets will guarantee a playoff spot for the second straight year.

With 11 games left, the Nets are the fifth seed, 1.5 games behind the Chicago Bulls for the fourth seed (which would guarantee home-court advantage in the first round) and 2.5 games behind the Toronto Raptors for the third seed and Atlantic Division lead. The Raptors and Bulls both hold tiebreakers over the Nets.

The Timberwolves are just one of three teams the Nets will face with a record over .500 for the rest of the year, and their opponent’s collective winning percentage is just 42%. But the Bulls’ remaining opponents have won just 38% of their games, and the Raptors’ 42%.

The Nets will once again be without Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko, two former Timberwolves fighting back spasms and a sprained ankle, respectively. Kirilenko injured his ankle a week ago against the Sacramento Kings, while Garnett hasn’t played since February 27th.

Sunday tipoff at 6 P.M. Here’s 3 things to watch.