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Preview: Nuggets take on Minnesota Timberwolves in Sunday matinee

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After dismantling Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets have eyes on Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves next

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets are riding high following their thrilling comeback win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night. That victory has Denver on a three game win streak, one that the team will seek to extend on a quick one-game roadie in Minnesota this afternoon.

So far this season the Timberwolves have looked like a much more competitive team than in years’ past, but is it real? Minnesota sits at a 5-3 record and most recently defeated the Golden State Warriors in OT, but has had a soft opening schedule and fell easily to two top teams in the Eastern Conference in Philadelphia and Milwaukee. Today will be the Wolves’ first look at a Western Conference playoff team this year and as such will be a litmus test to see how good they actually might be. For the Nuggets, after sweeping the season series last year this game should serve as nothing more than a tune up this early in the season.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (6-2) at Minnesota Timberwolves (5-3)

When: 1:30 PM MST

Where: Target Center, Minneapolis MN

How to Watch/listen: Altitude TV and KKSE Altitude Radio 92.5FM

Rival Blog: Canis Hoopus

Expected Lineups

Position Nuggets Wolves Advantage
Position Nuggets Wolves Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Jarrett Culver Nuggets
SG Gary Harris Andrew Wiggins Even
SF Will Barton Traveon Graham Nuggets
PF Paul Millsap Robert Covington Even
C Nikola Jokic Karl-Anthony Towns Nuggets
Bench Monte Morris, Malik Beasley, Torrey Craig, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee Jordan McLaughin, Josh Okogie, Jake Layman, Noah Vonleh, Gorgui Dieng Nuggets
Expected Lineups

Injury Report: Jordan Bell, Shabazz Napier and Jeff Teaugue are all questionable for Minnesota

Three Things to Watch

Nikola Jokic vs. Karl-Anthony Towns. The Jokic-Towns match up is always a sight to see and will certainly be the focal point of this game. Consensus around the league is that Jokic has far surpassed Towns in the faux battle between young centers in the NBA, and it isn’t wrong thinking. But Towns has come out this season with a chip on his shoulder to prove he still belongs in the discussion. In six games, he is averaging 25.7 ppg and is shooting a blistering 45% from three on eight attempts per game. And he always seems to show up against Jokic; last season Karl-Anthony averaged 29 points and 9.7 rebounds against the Nuggets.

The headlines surrounding Jokic have all been about how “something is wrong” with him and that he is undeniably out of shape. One simply needs to rewatch the fourth quarter of Friday’s game against the Sixers to be reminded of just much talent the Joker possesses. Towns may be a better all around scorer but Jokic’s IQ more than makes up for any physical deficit. Both centers will have their hand’s full.

Andrew Wiggins...maybe? Wiggins is at or near the top of the “empty volume stats on bad teams” list, but he’s also having a career year. Is it finally real or just a byproduct of being surrounded with lesser talent? He dropped 40 on the Warriors the other night and traditionally plays well against Denver, but Gary Harris has done a phenomenal job at bottling up opponents this season.

Bench Improvement. It took each of the starters playing 35+ minutes to take down Philly on Friday night, and that’s not an anomaly: bench minutes are down significantly for guys like Monte Morris, Torrey Craig and Mason Plumlee. Given the mostly uninspiring play of the bench so far this season, the reduction in bench playing time is not surprising. But it would be nice to buck that trend and get the bench back to being the hugely positive asset it was a year ago.