The Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Oklahoma City Thunder to earn their place in the NBA Playoffs. Minnesota, the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, are going to face off against the No. 1 seeded Denver Nuggets. Can the Timberwolves shock the world or will the Nuggets cruise through their first round matchup? Find all the information you need to know heading into this matchup below, including a prediction!
Regular Season Matchups
Nuggets at Timberwolves: 1/02/2023
Result: Timberwolves 124-111 Nuggets
Timberwolves G Anthony Edwards: 29 points, 10-for-24 shooting, 10 rebounds, five assists
Nuggets C Nikola Jokić: 24 points, 10-for-20 shooting, seven rebounds, nine assists
Timberwolves at Nuggets: 1/18/2023
Result: Nuggets 122-118 Timberwolves
Nuggets C Nikola Jokić: 31 points, 12-for-20 shooting, 11 rebounds, 13 assists
Timberwolves F Jaden McDaniels: 18 points, 7-for-10 shooting, three blocks
Nuggets at Timberwolves: 2/05/2023
Result: Timberwolves 128-98 Nuggets
Timberwolves G Anthony Edwards: 20 points, 8-for-17 shooting, four rebounds, three assists
Nuggets G Christian Braun: 19 points, 7-for-10 shooting, 2-for-2 shooting from three
Timberwolves and Nuggets: 2/07/2023
Result: Nuggets 146-112 Timberwolves
Nuggets C Nikola Jokić: 20 points, 8-for-10 shooting, 12 rebounds, 16 assists
Timberwolves G Anthony Edwards: 19 points, 7-for-11 shooting, three rebounds, three assists
How Minnesota can win:
The Timberwolves need a lot to go right in order to win the series, but the biggest key is the play of Anthony Edwards. He had a sensational regular season, averaging a career-high 24.6 points on 45.9 percent shooting from the field and 36.9 shooting from three. Edwards played through some nagging injuries in both of the team’s play-in games, which begs the question as to how close he is to 100 percent. The 21-year-old looked much better in their win over the Thunder, scoring 19 points on 8-for-19 shooting along with 10 rebounds and six assists. Edwards need to be scoring 20+ a night on 40-45 percent shooting in the series for Minnesota to have any chance.
Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns will look to work together as they try to contain Nikola Jokić. The two-big lineup is going to be fascinating to watch, given that it was not seen that often in the regular season. Towns only played in 29 games due to a calf injury, so he and Gobert were unable to get any sort of continuity. If those two can limit Jokić and his impact, the Nuggets could have some trouble generating offense.
How Denver can win:
Nikola Jokić is going to get his, but what the rest of the group does will determine how the Nuggets perform in this series. Jamal Murray is back to playing at a remarkable level after fully recovering from a torn ACL in April of 2021. The guard averaged 20 points on 45.4 percent shooting from the field and 6.2 assists. Denver needs Murray to be effective, both as a playmaker and a scorer.
It was also be crucial for the Nuggets to defend well as a team. Jokić, Murray and even Michael Porter Jr. are all known as below average defenders, which will be tested against a gritty Timberwolves team. If that trio can lock in and defend without fouling, the Nuggets should be able to limit Minnesota’s offense.
Series Prediction: Denver Nuggets over the Minnesota Timberwolves in six games
This doesn’t feel like a typical No. 1 vs No. 8 seed matchup, given how tight the Western Conference has been this season. The Timberwolves are going to be a tough out, even without Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid. Denver will need to play well to get through, which I believe they will in six games. Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns will get two games, but nothing more than that.