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Nuggets vs. Timberwolves prediction: Does Minnesota have a Jokic answer?

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The toughest challenger to the Nuggets might come in the second round. That’s where they will face the No. 3-seeded Timberwolves after Minnesota readily dispatched the Suns in a four-game sweep. 

The Nuggets are going into this series as favorites. They’ve earned the benefit of the doubt due to having the best player in the league on their side, along with championship experience. But the Timberwolves have played them extremely well, starting with last year’s first-round series which the Nuggets took down in five games. 

“Honestly, I would say our toughest series was [against] Minnesota,” former Nuggets guard Bruce Brown Jr. said on Run Your Race podcast last summer. “Ant and them. It was just something about them.”

The same has held true this year, where the teams split their season series 2-2. The unique height of Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns is about as good of a duo as you can hope for in slowing down Denver’s offense. And Anthony Edwards looks like the star of the playoffs. 

This is one of the most interesting series that we’re going to get in these playoffs. Here’s how it might shake out. 

MORE: Complete list of winners for NBA’s end-of-season awards

This Nuggets team isn’t quite as good as last year’s group. They’re missing the strong bench play of Brown. Reggie Jackson and Jamal Murray are also nursing minor injuries. 

A calf injury for Murray slowed him down in the first round against the Lakers. He did have a brilliant game-winner to give the Nuggets a 2-0 lead. But he isn’t dominating the playoffs as he did previously. 

Despite those small warts for Denver, these guys are still the best team in the West. Nikola Jokic is the ultimate weapon late in games. He never gets rattled, and he’s such an unstoppable scorer one-on-one that the Nuggets are always going to get a good look in crunch time.

MORE: Why Nikola Jokic could lead the NBA in scoring if he wanted to

The Wolves aren’t chopped liver, though. Edwards has lifted his game and arrived as one of the truly elite playoff performers after averaging 31.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists in the first round. His athleticism is something to behold, and he plays with a joy and swagger that is infectious.

Is that enough to get past this Nuggets team? Despite leading all teams in scoring during the first round, there are still very real concerns about Minnesota’s offense. And it has been much shakier in the clutch than Denver. 

The Nuggets were never pushed to a seven-game series during last year’s championship run. Getting them to seven would be an accomplishment, which seems likely given how good both of these teams are. In that pivotal game, Denver’s home-court advantage should be enough to get it through. 

Prediction: Nuggets in seven games

Series odds via BetMGM have not yet been released. We will update you once they are live. 

The Nuggets and Timberwolves met four times during the 2023-24 regular season. They split the series 2-2. 

Towns only played in that first meeting between the two teams. Gobert and Murray also missed a game each. 

Minnesota had the best regular season defense by a mile. It also did a nice job against Phoenix’s dangerous offense thanks to its trio of elite perimeter defenders. 

The player that gets the most praise for the Timberwolves’ defense is soon-to-be four-time Defensive Player of the Year Gobert, but don’t sleep on the team’s guards. Jaden McDaniels should get votes for an All-Defensive team. Nickeil Alexander-Walker is the most underrated defender in the league. And Edwards always wants the toughest matchup late because of his ability to shut down players one-on-one. 

MORE: Why Nickeil Alexander-Walker is the Timberwolves’ X-Factor

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