The Denver Nuggets (55-29) entered the playoffs quietly with a number of losses and poor performances over the final month of the season which had brought a lot of doubters out of the woodwork. Through two games, the Nuggets are leading the Minnesota Timberwolves (43-43) by two games, and they have yet to trail by more than three points in either game with the Timberwolves never leading for longer than a few minutes. 

Denver has gotten quiet performances out of Nikola Jokic through each of the first two games, but the team has found ways to thrive regardless of that with Jamal Murray pouring in 40 points on 59 percent shooting in Game 2 after they shot 41 percent from 3-point range in Game 1. They’ve also held Karl Anthony-Towns to a total of 21 points through two games on 8-of-27 shooting.

For the Timberwolves, after Anthony Edwards was relatively quiet entering the playoffs and in Game 1, he exploded for 41 points in Game 2 while shooting 60.9 percent from the floor, including a 6-of-10 showing from 3-point range. The Timberwolves need a consistent second source of offense to find some life in Game 3 before this series finds its conclusion.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (55-29, 19-22 away) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (43-43, 22-20 home)

When: 7:30 p.m. MST

Where: Target Center

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

Expected Starting Lineups:

MIN: PG Mike Conley, SG Anthony Edwards, SF Taurean Prince, PF Karl Anthony-Towns, C Rudy Gobert

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

Injuries: Nikola Jokic (wrist) PROBABLE, Rudy Gobert (back) QUESTIONABLE, Jaylen Nowell (knee) QUESTIONABLE

Three Things to Watch

Slowing Karl Anthony-Towns

Through two games, the Nuggets have been great at keeping the lid on Karl Anthony-Towns. He has just 21 points, and he is shooting 29.6 percent from the field. They’ve kept him outside the paint due to the presence of Rudy Gobert, and they’re not allowing him to get into a rhythm from 3-point range. That has to continue tonight if they want to be successful.

Avoid Foul Trouble

Through two games, Jokic has been called for 10 fouls, including fouling out of Game 1. In Game 2, Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr., Bruce Brown and Jokic all had four or more fouls. This Nuggets’ team relies heavily on their starters, and they can’t risk sending them to the bench for too long with fouls. The main key will be avoiding dumb or lazy fouls. If they can avoid those, that will make their life easier on both ends of the floor. 

Attack the Boards

There were times this year the Nuggets struggled to rebound the ball, but they’ve won the rebound battle in each of the first two games. These two teams were ranked 19th and 23rd respectively in rebounding during the regular season. When teams are that close in one statistic, the team that wins the battle in the game will go a long way towards winning the game overall.