See more of the story

Timberwolves players have said and will continue to say all the right things about their upcoming playoff matchup, in part because they have to and in part because the world's elite athletes do not thing like you and I do.

The best of the best always believe they can win, and they pay far less attention to data and external noise that might suggest otherwise.

Like: The Wolves went 0-3 against Phoenix this year and never trailed by fewer than double-digits in the second half of any of those games, including Sunday's blowout loss at Target Center with plenty on the line.

And: Even in the face of that, veteran guard Mike Conley Jr. saying after Sunday's game, "We're a team that we haven't looked across the court and thought we're not better than another team. I think in every game, we feel like we can beat that opponent, and this is no different."

But as Patrick Reusse and I talked about on Monday's Daily Delivery podcast, the reality is that Sunday's result and this matchup against Phoenix is about as bad an outcome as the Wolves could have received after such a stellar regular season.

After winning 56 games -- second-best in franchise history -- and leading the West for a lot of the season, the Wolves slipped to third on the season's final day.

While there are not likely going to be any easy first-round matchups, with the Lakers, Pelicans and Warriors all vying for the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds, the Wolves' matchup against Phoenix is just plain bad.

If that's the team that a lot of fans were worried about facing, it was hardly just a classic case of Minnesota fan pessimism getting in the way of facts. It was justified, and now it has come true.

All that said, the regular season and playoffs are completely different. Betting odds say the No. 3 seeded Wolves and No. 6 Suns are pretty close to being a push to win the series, and the Wolves are slight favorites to win Game 1 Saturday at Target Center.

It just takes one stellar performance and victory to change the mood of the series and the fan base. Whether that happens, though, remains to be seen.

Here are four more things to know today:

*The WNBA draft is tonight, and Star Tribune Lynx writer Kent Youngblood has Minnesota taking Utah forward Alissa Pili at No. 8. Minnesota pulled off a weekend trade with Chicago, dropping one spot from No. 7 and picking up future assets. Could that also have been an indication that the Lynx want no part of drafting polarizing LSU forward Angel Reese?

*Reusse and I also talked about the Twins on Monday's show. They were just two innings away from evening their record and taking some of the sting off the latest big injury (Carlos Correa) before a bullpen and infield defense letdown Sunday. Can Minnesota tread water until Correa and Royce Lewis return? And can they get their team batting average (currently an MLB-worst .185) above the Mendoza Line?

*A three-round ESPN NFL mock draft has the Vikings trading No. 11, No. 23 and next year's first-round pick to move up to No. 5 to take QB J.J. McCarthy. If that's the price, I hope Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has a different option.

*Ben Kaplan, co-author of the new book, "Pipeline to the Pros: How D3, Small-College Nobodies Rose to Rule the NBA," is expected to be my guest on Tuesday's podcast. The book has a long section on Timberwolves coach Chris Finch.