Sports! It’s really the only way to describe this second round series between the Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Timberwolves. First, the Nuggets were anointed the team no one was going to beat in seven, the champs seemingly destined to repeat. Then, the Wolves took the first two game of the series in the Nuggets building and in convincing fashion. Suddenly Minnesota was anointed as the successor, the team with the next MJ surely headed for a sweep of the fraudulent Nuggets. However, Denver responded by going into Minnesota and winning games three and four in convincing fashion in their own right. Nikola Jokic reminded everyone he is the best player on earth, the Wolves squandered all their momentum, the series won’t go past six games. Listen, I have no idea what’s going to happen anymore other than we have at least two more games of what is turning into an epic series.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (2-2) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (2-2)

When: 8:30 PM MDT

Where: The Can. Denver, CO.

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. TNT. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio. NBA League Pass for those not in the Nuggets market. Show up in Denver wearing a crazy opera mask and claim to be the phantom that haunts the Wolves chances.

Rival blog: Canis Hoopus

The Matchup

Position Nuggets Wolves Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Mike Conley Nuggets
SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Anthony Edwards Wolves
SF Michael Porter Jr. Jaden McDaniels Even
PF Aaron Gordon Karl-Anthony Towns Even
C Nikola Jokic Rudy Gobert Nuggets
Bench Reggie Jackson, Christian Braun, Justin Holiday Naz Reid, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Monte Morris, Kyle Anderson Wolves


Injury report: Jamal Murray – questionable (calf), Vlatko Cancar – out (knee)

The Three Things

The thing to watch for: bench vs bench

May 12, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Christian Braun (0) goes to the basket between Minnesota Timberwolves center Naz Reid (11) and forward Jaden McDaniels (3) in the second quarter of game four of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Edwards sat for a grand total of three minutes in game four…and the Wolves were out scored by thirteen in those three minutes. What was a weakness for Denver in the first round has turned into a strength and that is bench play. The problem for Minnesota is, outside of Sixth Man of the Year Naz Reid, they have no one to rely on off their bench and if Karl-Anthony Towns is struggling to carry the Edwards-less minutes there’s no where else to turn. Reid has had his moments in this series and has largely been an efficient and effective scorer but he also gets caught up in a numbers game. With Towns and Rudy Gobert, seventy-five plus of the total ninety-six minutes available for bigs in the game are eaten up and it doesn’t leave a lot of time for Reid to get on the court. On the Nuggets side, after the bench was woeful in the first round they are finally contributing. Justin Holiday is knocking down threes at a regular clip, Christian Braun is getting in Edwards grill and making things difficult, Reggie Jackson is remaining just enough of a threat to keep Minnesota honest in the minutes where Jamal Murray is off the floor. That’s been a key catalyst in turning this series around and if Denver is going to win this thing they will need another big performance from the reserves tonight.

The thing to remember: Minnesota is mad

Edwards was talking trash with Murray at the end of game four, the Wolves just got embarrassed on their homecourt. Remember what happened when the Nuggets were in a similar situation in game three? They came out, got an eight point lead in the first quarter before turning it into a laugher in the second. Expect a similar focus from Minnesota in tonight’s game. Denver has to be ready for the Wolves to try and punch them in the mouth and take the crowd out of the game early. The Nuggets can’t let that happen. This home crowd has been waiting to explode this series and if the Nuggets can weather the storm then the crowd plus the altitude can make the fourth quarter winning time for the home team. More than any game so far this series, it is paramount for the Nuggets to get off to a good start.

The thing to bet: lots of interesting options on three pointers

Depending on how you like your flavor of gambler’s fallacy, there’s a number of ways you can convince yourself that based on previous games the over on a player’s three pointers line will hit. Think Holiday will keep knocking them down? You can get his over 1.5 threes at +150. Think Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is due? You can get his over 1.5 threes at +115. Think Michael Porter Jr. will bounce back to his usual sniper self? You can get his over 2.5 threes at -105. Personally, I’m intrigued by Braun who needs just one three pointer to hit the over on his 0.5 line and that cashes in at +130. Christian has made a three pointer in every game this series except game two when the refs allowed the game to devolve into a WWE match.