For the second night in a row, the Denver Nuggets (31-13) are back in action with the Minnesota Timberwolves (22-23) for the second time this season. This is also the second time this month, and it’s the second time that the Timberwolves will be catching the Nuggets on the second night of a back-to-back after having the previous night off. 

The Nuggets are riding high after last night’s victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, which was their seventh in a row, and it made them 9-1 in their last 10 games. Coincidentally, their lone loss during that 10-game stretch was to these Timberwolves on January 2nd. Since winning 12 straight games between the 2018-2021 seasons, the Nuggets have lost the last four games in this series, and they’ll want to end that streak tonight.

The Timberwolves enter tonight’s matchup in ninth place in the Western Conference, but they’re just a half game back from sixth place and 3.5 games back from fourth place as the West is really congested after the top couple of teams. Due to injuries and other factors, this team has underperformed to this point in the year, but they’re 6-4 in their last 10 games and 6-2 in the month of January. A win tonight could really help them keep turning things around.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (31-13, 20-3 home) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (22-23, 8-13 away)

When: 8:00 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena

How to watch/listen: ESPN. Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV were available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up in Denver. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Canis Hoopus

Expected Starting Lineups:

MIN: PG D’Angelo Russell, SG Anthony Edwards, SF Jaden McDaniels, PF Kyle Anderson, C Rudy Gobert

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Michael Porter Jr., PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Collin Gillespie (leg), Jeff Green (hand/finger), Peyton Watson (groin), Jamal Murray (ankle), Bones Hyland (ankle), Anthony Edwards (hip), Taurean Prince (ankle), Jordan McLaughlin (calf), Karl Anthony-Towns (calf)

Three Things to Watch

Outside Shooting

In the previous meeting between these two teams, the Nuggets shot a higher percentage from 3-point range, had more points in the paint, while having more fast-break points and more points scored off of turnovers. The Nuggets have five guys in their rotation that average more than three 3-point shots per game while shooting 38.6 percent or better from outside. The Timberwolves have two. Force this team to shoot outside more often and less in the mid-range where they scored a ton in the first matchup.

Ball Movement

In the previous matchup between these two teams, the Nuggets had 27 assists, which isn’t a bad mark, but this team is 19-3 this season when they get 30 or more assists in the game. Getting the ball moving keeps the defense off balance, and it makes it easier for everyone to score and operate. If they can get to work early by making the extra pass and finding the open man, they’ll be in good shape.

Late-Game Legs

Tonight will be the fourth time in less than a month that the Nuggets have played back-to-back games. They’ve been outscored in the final quarter of two of those three games played thus far, and the third game was a matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were playing without Donovan Mitchell. All of Denver’s starters played 30 or more minutes last night, so it will be interesting to see how that affects them at the end of this one.