NBA playoff matchup

May 04, 2004|By Milton Kent

NBA playoff matchup

Second round, Western Conference

No. 1 Minnesota (58-24) vs. No. 4 Sacramento (55-27)

Season series: Minnesota 3-1.

How they got here: Minnesota beat Denver, 4-1, in the first round. Sacramento beat Dallas, 4-1, in the first round.

Timberwolves outlook: Minnesota has advanced past the first round for the first time in franchise history. Kevin Garnett has double doubles in 14 of his past 15 playoff games. The Timberwolves have won nine straight at home and 13 of their past 14 overall. Guards Troy Hudson (ankle) and Wally Szczerbiak (spine) are expected to miss the series. Minnesota was the only team to win twice in Sacramento this season.

Kings outlook: The Kings advanced to the Western semifinals for the fourth straight season. Small forward Peja Stojakovic shot just 42 percent from the field in the Dallas series, but played exceptional defense on Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley.

Prediction: Now that the Timberwolves have beaten the "never gotten out of the first round" hex, it will be interesting to see if they relax. The injuries to Hudson will hurt Minnesota more than the one to Szczerbiak, but it shouldn't be debilitating. Chris Webber will have to have the series of his life to stay with Garnett. The odds are he won't. Minnesota in seven.

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