After manhandling the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night, the Denver Nuggets flew to Minnesota ahead of their match against the Timberwolves, marking their fifth game in seven nights. The Nuggets have won three of the first four games in this condensed stretch and four of their last five, their lone loss at the hands of the Spurs in San Antonio.
The Nuggets will be underdogs tonight against the upstart Timberwolves but a win would put them five games ahead of their conference rivals in the race for the eighth seed. They’d also put a full game and a half cushion on the Portland Trailblazers, the leading challenger for the final slot in the playoffs.
Last time these two teams met, the second year big men put on a show with Nikola Jokic going for 16 points, 8 rebounds, and a career-high 11 assists. Karl-Anthony Towns matched that output with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The Nuggets took home the win in an exciting 105-103 game. Tonight’s matchup promises to bring that same excitement and it is safe to say that a rivalry is brewing between these two teams as both rosters are filled with you talent.
Who: Denver Nuggets (18-24) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (15-28)
When: 5:00 PM MT
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis
How to watch: Altitude TV
Rival Blog: Canis Hoopus
|PG||Kris Dunn||Jameer Nelson||Wolves|
|SG||Zach LaVine||Will Barton||Even|
|SF||Andrew Wiggins||Danilo Gallinari||Nuggets|
|PF||Karl-Anthony Towns||Kenneth Faried||Wolves|
|C||Gorgui Dieng||Nikola Jokic||Nuggets|
|Bench||Shabazz Muhammad, Nemanja Bjelica, Tyus Jones, Cole Aldrich||Jamal Murray, Wilson Chandler, Juancho Hernangomez, Jusuf Nurkic||Nuggets|
Injuries: Ricky Rubio (OUT), Emmanuel Mudiay (OUT), Gary Harris (Questionable), Darrell Arthur (Questionable), Danilo Gallinari (Probable)
Key Matchup: Karl-Anthony Towns vs. Nikola Jokic
The Northwest division is home to two of the most talented young big men in the league and two of the most dynamic big men the game has ever seen. Towns has the mobility and offensive arsenal of players half his size while Jokic has the vision and touch of the smoothest point guards. Last game the two were rarely matched up against each other since Towns plays most of his minutes at power forward but both teams will be relying on their young bigs to carry the playmaking load. Towns got the triple double in their last meetup but Jokic had the better game and ultimately got the win. Tonight is the rematch and both guys will be key for their team.
Thing to watch: Fatigue is a factor
After the game, I asked Jokic what if feels like to play five NBA games in seven nights and his response was very interesting. “Actually, when you are winning, you just want to play more.” Still, he might feel a bit different when he walks out onto the court to warm up tonight, feeling the effects of travel plus the effects of so many games and minutes in a short span. The Nuggets have had some good wins over this recent hot streak but a win tonight would be the best win over that stretch and a statement that the team really has turned a corner.
Over the last 21 games, Nikola Jokic has shot 70% from the field or better more often than he’s shot 60% or worse. Think about that. It is rare for a player to shoot 60% or better yet Jokic shooting worse than 60% has actually been pretty rare recently. He’s on an incredible hot streak that defies logic and at some point is likely to slump. It might be tonight and it might be 20 games from now. This kid is something else and has been so dang fun to watch over the last two months. We are all lucky!