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Dark Horse Championship Contenders Get Major Playoff Boost

New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram and Minnesota Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns

The New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves have received major injury updates ahead of the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

Dark Horse Title Contenders Get Major Playoff Boost

Brandon Ingram

Brandon Ingram is expected to return to the lineup on Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers, per Chris Haynes of Turner Sports. Ingram has been out since Mar. 21, hyperextending his knee during their game against the Orlando Magic. Since Ingram has been out, the Pelicans have gone 6-5.

This season, Ingram is averaging 20.9 points, 5.8 assists, and 0.8 steals per game while shooting 49.0 percent from the field. His biggest contribution is as a three-level scorer and secondary playmaker. Nonetheless, he’s stepped up defensively this season, more intent on making use of his pterodactyl-like wingspan.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Karl-Anthony Towns is expected to return to the Timberwolves lineup on Friday when Minnesota faces the Atlanta Hawks. Recovering from a meniscus tear, Towns has been upgraded to questionable ahead of the matchup. The four-time All-Star sustained the injury on Mar. 4 against the Portland Trail Blazers.

This season, Towns is averaging 22.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 0.7 blocks per game while shooting 50.6 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from 3. A 7-footer capable of scoring from all three levels, Towns is missed even with Sixth Man of the Year candidate Naz Reid stepping up.

A Cinderella Story

Two squads that have made ample progress in their rebuild over the past two seasons, both the Pelicans and Timberwolves have the makings of a Cinderella team in the playoffs.

In the West, the path to the NBA Finals may go through the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets. However, four other West teams are led by former MVPs: the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, and Golden State Warriors. Each of those teams has as much of a chance to win as any in a playoff format.

Similar to those teams, the Pelicans and Timberwolves have three star players. In fact, both teams are led by former No. 1 picks. They also have a solid mix of veterans and younger athletes. They’re well-coached, not only in terms of their play-calling but their mindset. They’re capable of slowing teams down and scoring at a high rate, balanced in nearly every conceivable way.


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