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PHOENIX – The Suns became the second team to beat the Timberwolves two times this season by double digits with their 97-87 victory over the Wolves on Friday night in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the final made it seem.

The Suns joined the Pelicans as the only team to accomplish that this season. The Wolves beat the Pelicans twice when Zion Williamson didn't play. When Williamson did play, New Orleans won easily each time.

This is the time of the season when fans, coaches and players alike start doing a little projecting when they look at the standings. One of the main questions remaining: Just who will be the Wolves' matchup in the first round of the playoffs?

There's a lot left to sort out in the final week of the regular season up and down the standings that make that almost impossible to handicap. The Wolves could finish anywhere from No. 1 to No. 3, and the teams behind them from four through nine are all capable of moving around before the season ends.

There's one issue when you squint to see who the Wolves' first-round opponent is: There is only one glaring positive matchup for the Wolves, or any team for that matter.

If the Wolves could finagle their way to playing the Kings in the first round, that might be as close to an easy matchup as they're going to get. The Kings beat the Wolves twice this season, but they will enter the playoffs without some key contributors like Kevin Huerter, out for the season because of a shoulder injury, and Malik Monk, a Sixth Man of the Year candidate who is likely to miss the first round because of a knee ligament injury. Monk had a big hand in defeating the Wolves in their matchups this season.

The Kings are likely headed for the play-in tournament as they continue to tumble down the standings, so if the Wolves want a crack at them, they need to be at least the No. 2 and possibly only No. 1.

But go down the rest of the list of possible first-round opponents. The Mavericks? Dallas is one of the hottest teams in the league right now, and the Wolves lost the only matchup in which Kyrie Irving and Luke Doncic both played. The Lakers? LeBron James and Anthony Davis won a title together in 2020 and made a run to the Western Conference finals out of the play-in last season. The Warriors? Seemingly a good matchup on paper for the Wolves with their size, but four-time NBA champion Stephen Curry will always give Golden State a chance.

The Suns, who led by at least 10 points for the game's final 45 minutes Friday, are sixth after beating the Wolves, and the teams meet again in the regular-season finale at Target Center on April 14. After losing convincingly again to Phoenix, would the Wolves have it in their heads that the Suns might be a bad matchup for them?

"I don't think as a competitor you're supposed to allow doubt to set in because you lost twice," guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker said. "If anything, you should become more motivated to win. Have some more fire to you to want to play harder. Figure it out. I know for me, I want to figure it out. I know that whatever I can do in my role in helping other guys in there, just trying to win. I think in the playoffs, if we do have to play them, we have an ultimate goal."

Mike Conley said, in his career, he has seen plenty of instances where one team dominated a regular-season matchup and then it flipped in the playoffs.

"Playoff matchups change," Conley said. "People throw different things out there. We figure something or they figure something out. Those things matter. We can't really be thinking about it as far as being in a situation we want to avoid. I think we'll be ready. I think we'll have to make those adjustments whoever we play."

That's the Wolves' mindset, and they shouldn't do something like jockey to be the No. 3 seed because of a perceived better matchup at the expense of home-court advantage in later rounds.

What's the Wolves best first-round matchup? Unless it's Sacramento, there likely is none.