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Preview: Jokic looks to cement MVP award in final contest against Timberwolves

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There won’t be a potential playoff berth on the line this night as the Nuggets face the Timberwolves with only three games remaining in the season.

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

Do you remember how it felt to lose to the Minnesota Timberwolves four seasons ago?

Denver had fought and scratched their way to six straight wins, and it came down to the final game of the season to decide which team would get to continue on into the playoffs or go home.

Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic took over for the Nuggets in the fourth quarter, but the referees swallowed their whistles when Taj Gibson fouled Jokic with under two seconds left on the clock, sending the game to overtime. Jimmy Butler outscored the Nuggets in the extra period, and that was it — the Nuggets season was over. The Timberwolves season wouldn’t last much longer, and they haven’t returned to the playoffs since then.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets have gone to the playoffs the last three seasons, including a Western Conference Finals berth last year in the NBA Bubble. They’ve added Michael Porter Jr. to their starting lineup, and have overcome the loss of Jamal Murray to a season-ending injury to clinch the 4-seed this season. Oh, and Nikola Jokic is the favorite to win the 2021 MVP award.

That game was a bitter moment for Nuggets fans, who wanted to see their team get a chance to experience what the playoffs tasted like. We’ve had more than our fair share the last couple of seasons, and will get to experience it again this year, regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game. Win, and the Nuggets help the Timberwolves odds’ of retaining their upcoming first round pick, which they owe to the Golden State Warriors (protected 1-3). Lose, and the Nuggets help the Warriors odds of receiving a top-5 pick to supplement their roster that has already locked in a shot at the playoffs this year.

At least we don’t have to experience this again.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets at Minnesota Timberwolves

When: 6:00 PM MDT

How to Watch: Altitude

Rival Blog: Canis Hoopus

Projected Lineups

Timberwolves vs Nuggets

POS DEN MIN EDGE
POS DEN MIN EDGE
PG Facu Campazzo Ricky Rubio Even
SG Austin Rivers D'Angelo Russell T'wolves
SF Michael Porter Jr. Anthony Edwards Nuggets
PF Aaron Gordon Jarred Vanderbilt Nuggets
C Nikola Jokic Karl-Anthony Towns Nuggets
BENCH Monte Morris, Shaq Harrison, Bol Bol, JaMychal Green, Paul Millsap, JaVale McGee Jaden McDaniels, Juancho Hernangomez, Jake Layman, Josh Okogie, Naz Reid, Jordan McLaughlin Even

Injuries: Malik Beasley (out - hamstring, etc.), Jarrett Culver (out - ankle); Jamal Murray (out - knee), Will Barton (out - hamstring), PJ Dozier (out - groin), Monte Morris (day-to-day - hamstring)

Three things to watch

Anthony Edwards. The kid is good! He’s been on an absolute tear since the All-Star Game, averaging over 23 points and five rebounds per game. He’s a force driving to the rim, he can hit the 3-ball, and he’s a strong rebounder. He looks legit, and should be a dominant player eventually. He might get matched up with Aaron Gordon, who should be able to take advantage of his defensive naivete. Gordon needs to win his matchup on defense with him though, and try to avoid fouling him and sending him to the line for easy points.

MPJ vs whatever they send his way. This is a game where MPJ could really cook. I don’t think Jarred Vanderbilt knows him well enough to slow him down on offense, and I don’t see Jaden McDaniels having much of a chance either. Who else do they have? Juancho? I don’t think so. Let’s see if MPJ can hit 40 points tonight.

Minutes for the second unit. The starters have been doing their job by getting a big lead in the first quarter, only to see the second unit squander it in a matter of minutes. Don’t do that tonight! Let Jokic and MPJ get as much rest as they can, and put this game away quick.

Prediction

Denver Nuggets 121 - Minnesota Timberwolves 118

Poll

Which player is older?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    Ricky Rubio
    (287 votes)
  • 46%
    Facu Campazzo
    (253 votes)
540 votes total Vote Now