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Preview: Nuggets strive for history in primetime matchup against Timberwolves

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The Nuggets won’t have to deal with Jimmy Butler as they host the Timberwolves in the Thursday night marquee matchup.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Nuggets nation, it’s time to entice the basketball gods to bless us with another victory.

The Nuggets have won three straight games, and still are in a position to control their destiny in regards to a postseason berth. While nearly every game for the last two weeks has been a “must-win,” tonight REALLY is a must win game. A victory would even up the records for the two teams (ask Ryan Blackburn for tiebreaker details) with still one more game between the two teams before the end of the season.

It’s time to go win a basketball game.

The Basics

Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (44-34) at Denver Nuggets (43-35)

When: 8:30 PM MDT

Where: Pepsi Center, Denver CO

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV, KKSE Altitude Radio AM950, TNT

Rival Blog: Canis Hoopus

Lineups

Position
Timberwolves
Nuggets
Edge
PG
Jeff Teague
Jamal Murray
Timberwolves
SG
Andrew Wiggins
Will Barton
Even
SF
Nemanja Bjelica
Wilson Chandler
Nuggets
PF
Taj Gibson
Paul Millsap
Nuggets
C
Karl-Anthony Towns
Nikola Jokic
Even
Bench
Jamal Crawford, Tyus Jones, Gorgui Dieng
Devin Harris, Malik Beasley, Torrey Craig, Juancho Hernangomez, Trey Lyles, Mason Plumlee
Nuggets

INJURIES: Derrick Rose (questionable - ankle), Jimmy Butler (questionable - knee), Jeff Teague (questionable - knee); Gary Harris (out - knee); Tyler Lydon (out - knee)

Three things to watch

Will Jeff Teague play? If Teague is out for tonight’s game, Minnesota will have to start Tyus Jones, with former Nuggets guard Aaron Brooks backing him up. With Jamal Crawford as the only other guard that will get minutes, there’s a strong possibility that if Teague is out, Jones plays 40 minutes tonight. Teague is a good point guard, and has the experience to make things difficult for Jamal Murray.

Murray has increased his production with Gary Harris out of the lineup, and he plays better at home. Being able to go against Jones for a majority of the game rather than Teague gives him a little bit more of an edge in a game where his production is going to be desperately needed.

Can the Nuggets limit Andrew Wiggins? Wiggins is one of the most overpaid players in the league, with a max contract in hand for a Canadian version of Rudy Gay. He’s been asked to do more with Butler out, and his scoring has gone up, but Minnesota isn’t winning games because of him most nights. But he does have the capacity to have a big game, and against a Denver squad that specializes in having random players have career-best performances, they cannot let that happen with Wiggins. If the Nuggets are turning the ball over, creating easy scoring opportunities for Wiggins, that’s going to be trouble.

Frontcourt warriors. Millsap and Jokic are playing better together every night, and if they’re able to have a good night against Gibson and Towns, that’ll be the ballgame for the Nuggets. They need to be excellent on both ends of the court - spacing the floor on offense, rotating and rebounding on defense - so they can keep pace with Minnesota. If the Nuggets are able to be the team imposing their physicality on the game, they can wear down the Timberwolves, and they’ll run out of gas in the fourth quarter.

Prediction

The Nuggets just seem like the more confident team right now. They’re fighting as a team, and it seems like they’re ready to go out there and get a spot in the postseason. It would have been nice to see that urgency a month ago, but it’s here now, and it’s real. Minnesota is limping into Denver for a national broadcast game, with no Jimmy Butler, a hurting Jeff Teague, and a coach that has been playing his starters more than any other starting lineup in the league.

If you can go to this game, GO. Cheer loud, and stay until the final buzzer no matter the outcome. Let’s go Nuggets!

Denver 124 - Minnesota 103.