Timberwolves vs. Nuggets preview: Corey Brewer's new crew comes to Denver

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Corey Brewer and the upstart Minnesota Timberwolves return to the Mile High City to face a slowly improving Nuggets squad with something to prove.

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Game 8: 2013-14 NBA Season

Minnesota Timberwolves (2009 - Pres)
@

Denver Nuggets (2009 - Pres)

6-3 (2-2 road)
Series 0-0
3-4 (2-2 home)
November 15th 2013
Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
6:00 PM MT
Altitude TV / ESPN / 950 AM
Ricky Rubio PG Ty Lawson
Kevin Martin SG Randy Foye
Corey Brewer SF Jordan Hamilton (?)
Kevin Love PF Kenneth Faried
Nikola Pekovic
C J.J. Hickson (probably should be Timofey Mozgov)
Notes
Canis Hoopus Blogs You're here!
Chase Budinger (left knee surgery), Ronny Turiaf (elbow) are both out Injuries Danilo Gallinari (knee) is out, JaVale McGee (leg fracture) is out
Kevin Love is the only player in NBA history to have at least 240 points, 125 rebounds, and 45 assists in his 1st nine regular season games
Stat The Nuggets have 4 double doubles as a team - and Kenneth Faried has 3 of them

There was a time - as early as last season, in fact - that the Nuggets previous game against the despised Lakers would have been the marquee match-up of the week for the home team, not tonight's contest against the formerly bottom-feeding Minnesota Timberwolves. But things can change quickly in the NBA, and just as the Lakers are battling through injuries to their stars, the T-wolves are thriving thanks to the best health they've enjoyed in recent years.

Kevin Love has arguably been the MVP of the first two weeks of the season, averaging 27.1 points per game to go along with 14.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists. Those gaudy numbers have given Love a league-leading PER of 30.86. He's finally getting to take advantage of playing with Ricky Rubio, who dished a career-high 16 assists in their last game against Cleveland, including several of the jaw-dropping variety.

With Love and Rubio healthy, Minnesota's complementary players have also enjoyed strong starts to the season, none more so than former fan favorite Corey Brewer. Brew is averaging 14.9 points per game on 50% shooting, both career bests. He's even hitting 35% of his three-pointers! The law of averages say those numbers will eventually regress, but good for Brewer, who is clearly taking advantage of his new role as a starter. Despite his penchant for launching ill-advised shots, I'll always appreciate Brewer for his hustle and classy demeanor. And this. He even sent a tweet thanking the Nuggets and their fans after leaving during the offseason, something a certain underground-dwelling mammal in Golden State couldn't be bothered with.

As for the Nuggets, things look like they're finally starting to click under Brian Shaw. After failing to score 100 points in their first three games, the Nugs have hit the century mark in their last four, averaging 105.7 per game in that span. Ty Lawson continues to play like he really wants that All-Star spot. Wilson Chandler returned to the lineup and provided a boost with some decent defense and timely three-point shots. And Timofey Mozgov showed he has what it takes to be a force in the paint. Here's hoping that Moz continues to dominate games, if only to provide us with more classic post-game interviews.

This is a great chance for the Nuggets to assert themselves as playoff contenders by defeating one of the better teams in the league at the moment. The Timberwolves average 108.2 points a game, second-most behind the Clippers. Their point differential is 8.6 points, 3rd in the league behind the Pacers and Spurs. It's the Nuggets' first nationally-televised game of the season, thus their first opportunity to prove to the world that they're better than advertised and that tanking is definitely not in the plans. Everything is in place for the Nuggets to snatch back the Trendy-Flyover-State-Team-That's-Fun-to-Watch crown that Minnesota has snatched in the early stages of the season ... or they could get blown out at home on national TV. That's what makes it fun though, right?

Game Predictions -

- Denver is the second-best rebounding team in the league at 47.6 per game; Minnesota is 5th with 45.6. The Nuggets gave up a lot of offensive rebounds to the Lakers, and Love is one of the best in the league on the glass, but the guards have been crashing the boards as of late which helps immensely. Nuggets will win the rebounding battle.

- Nate Robinson has been non-existent the last few games, but this seems like the type of game, i.e. on ESPN, that he can go off in. Nate Rob's lone 20+ point game was at home; I'm thinking we're due for another Nathan Explosion.

- Faried's aggressive play will aggravate Love at some point and Love will gripe to the officials, earning a technical foul.

- Shaw employed an interesting lineup in the beginning of the 4th quarter against the Lakers consisting of Andre Miller, Evan Fournier, Robinson, Chandler and Faried. The undersized unit had me scratching my head at first, but actually played fairly well and built the biggest lead of the game to that point. Don't be surprised to see it again.

- Corey Brewer does not shoot 5-5 from 3-point range tonight.

- Kevin Love goes for 32 points and 17 rebounds ... and the Nuggets pull off the victory as home underdogs, 113-105.


Western Conference Standings

GP W-L PCT
San Antonio Spurs 9 8-1 .889
Portland Trail Blazers 8 6-2 .750
Oklahoma City Thunder 7 5-2 .714
Los Angeles Clippers 9 6-3 .667
Minnesota Timberwolves 9 6-3 .667
Phoenix Suns 8 5-3 .625
Golden State Warriors 8 5-3 .625
Dallas Mavericks 8 5-3 .625
Houston Rockets 9 5-4 .556
Denver Nuggets 7 3-4 .429
Los Angeles Lakers 10 4-6 .400
Memphis Grizzlies 8 3-5 .375
New Orleans Pelicans 9 3-6 .333
Sacramento Kings 7 2-5 .286
Utah Jazz 9 1-8 .111


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