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Preview: Denver Looks to Ring the Bells Against Minnesota

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The Nuggets travel to Minneapolis for the second game of a back to back, and the second game in five days against the Timberwolves. Will the Nuggets pick up a third straight win without rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay in the lineup?

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets play the Timberwolves for the second time in five days, looking to find their fifth win in six games against the young Northwest Division rival.

The winning formula for the Nuggets of late has been to reach 100 points. Lawler's Law has held true, and when the Nuggets reach that point threshold, they have a 10-3 record. They'll have to give it a go without Emmanuel Mudiay, which likely means heavy minutes for Jameer Nelson and Gary Harris, one night after defeating the Houston Rockets. The starting guards for Denver played 77 of 96 minutes against Houston, so Michael Malone will likely need Randy Foye and Will Barton to log some minutes for Denver to help spell the starters.

The Timberwolves have lost two in a row, and are struggling to stop teams from scoring as of late. They allow 106 points per game at home, compared to 100 points per game on the road. That's likely due to their overall youth, as well as a first-year head coach in Sam Mitchell. Wolves fans are unhappy with their head coach as of late, and another loss to the Nuggets likely won't help the mood of the fanbase.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (10-14) at Minnesota Timberwolves (9-14)
When: 6:00 PM MT
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver CO
Where to watch: Altitude
Rival Blog:
Canis Hoopus

Minnesota Timberwolves Denver Nuggets 
Advantage
PG Ricky Rubio Jameer Nelson Even
SG Kevin Martin Gary Harris Nuggets
SF Andrew Wiggins Danilo Gallinari Nuggets
PF Kevin Garnett Kenneth Faried Even
C Karl-Anthony Towns Joffrey Lauvergne Timberwolves
Bench

Zach LaVine, Tayshaun Prince, Gorgui Dieng,
Nemanja Bjelica,Shabazz Muhammad, Andre Miller

J.J. Hickson, Darrell Arthur,
Will BartonNikola JokicRandy Foye
Nuggets

Injured players: Wilson Chandler, hip (out), Jusuf Nurkic, knee (out), Emmanuel Mudiay, ankle (out), Darrell Arthur, knee (probable)

Three Thoughts:

1) All About That City Life: The Nuggets need to make the Timberwolves go away from Karl-Anthony Towns. Sam Mitchell doesn't like bringing their most recent first-round draft pick back in the game if Towns is in foul trouble, so attacking the young center on defense and hounding him on offense is key. If he can get going, he has a really high ceiling, so it's best to have him dominate the bench instead of dominating on the court.

2) Rebound and push: Without Emmanuel Mudiay, the Nuggets should be trying to push the ball down the court and get easy transition buckets. Will Barton is just outside the top 10 in transition opportunities this season, and he's scoring 1.32 points per possession on transition plays, according to NBA stats. That's the eighth-best mark in the league, in the same territory as Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. Getting Barton the ball in transition is great offense, and the Nuggets will need points tonight.

3) More Gallo at power forward, thanks: The Nuggets have been playing Gallinari at power forward more often that late, and it's making a difference. He is such a threat to stretch the floor and be a playmaker, and he gets to the free throw line when the ball is in his hands. If Kostas Papanikolaou is able to play 15 minutes at small forward, and not be an open door on defense, the Nuggets can turbo-charge their offense for a stretch and make a run. When they get a lead, they can bring Kenneth Faried back in the game to rebound missed shots and run pick and roll to attack the basket.

Prediction: Minnesota 106 - Denver 99. My string of luck on recaps ran out against the Orlando Magic, and I'm not feeling very lucky tonight either. I think it'll be close, but the Nuggets guards won't have the gas to stop Andrew Wiggins late. I do hope that I'm wrong.