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Top 3 Dark Horse Teams Set to Make a Splash in the Playoffs | 2024

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With the NBA playoff season fully underway, it’s time to shift our focus to the games that will determine who will have the honour of securing the Larry O’Brien trophy next June. While all eyes may be on the usual contenders, NBA oddsmakers are pointing to three dark horse teams poised to shake up the standings: the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the New York Knicks.

While these teams may not boast the star power or playoff pedigree of their counterparts, they possess the potential to make a significant splash and defy expectations. And, if you happen to be rooting for any of these teams, enjoy placing a good wager you may want to check out BonusMonitor.ca – where you’ll find a bunch of sportsbook bonuses to sweeten the deal.

1. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves may have found their ticket to victory in 21-year-old phenom Anthony Edwards. Supported by a mix of seasoned veterans like Mike Conley, Kyle Anderson, and Rudy Gobert, along with emerging talent such as Naz Reid, Jaden McDaniels, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, the Timberwolves’ prospects are looking promising.

To realize their full potential, the Timberwolves must secure a higher seeding in the regular season. While they’ve proven their playoff worthiness with late-season pushes and close play-in victories in 2021 and 2022, aiming for a stronger position in the West is crucial. With improved seeding, they can focus on player health and strategic matchups in the early playoff rounds. Given their talent and coaching expertise, making necessary adjustments should be manageable. A Finals appearance for the Timberwolves wouldn’t be surprising, with the potential for a championship victory for The Gopher state.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder’s resurgence has stunned everyone as they clinched the #1 seed, marking their return to the playoffs after years. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s stellar performance has propelled OKC to new heights, sparking MVP conversations. However, despite their impressive form, their +1400 title odds reflect the tough competition ahead.

In a fiercely competitive Western Conference, teams like Denver, Minnesota, and even the injury-plagued Clippers pose significant challenges. Unlike these seasoned rivals, the Thunder are a young team, highlighting the importance of playoff experience. While they bring energy to the court, handling playoff pressure remains a concern.

However, if their impressive Game 4 victory against the Dallas Mavericks is any indication, they might have a chance to go all the way. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams truly shined in the fourth quarter, becoming integral parts of the team’s victory.

Crucial to their continued success will be their ability to convert outside shots and maintain consistency throughout the entire game. If opponents can clog the paint and force turnovers, it spells trouble for OKC. Consistent shooting, especially against teams with formidable rim protectors, will be key to their playoff campaign.

3. New York Knicks

The Knicks closed the season with a five-game winning streak, showcasing resilience without a three-time All-Star. They’ve established themselves as contenders with one of the league’s most dominant rising talents and secured the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Long criticized for relying solely on their metropolitan reputation, the Knicks have defied expectations, proving their success lies within, particularly under head coach Tom Thibodeau. Despite frequent roster changes, they’ve maintained momentum over the past two seasons, highlighted by winning streaks following acquisitions like Josh Hart and OG Anunoby. Depth players such as Hart, Precious Achiuwa, Donte DiVincenzo, Isaiah Hartenstein, and Miles McBride have emerged as invaluable assets beyond the core rotation.

However, the team’s list of sceptics still continues to grow, featuring notable figures in the industry, including 76ers depth star Paul Reed, Shaquille O’Neal and TNT analyst Charles Barkley. Despite this, the Knicks boast a 3-1 season series advantage over Philadelphia and delivered a commanding 36-point victory over the Sixers in the lone game where Joel Embiid played this season, highlighting Brunson’s impactful contributions.

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