T-Wolves Lead 2-0! Betting Preview for Nuggets vs Timberwolves NBA Playoffs Odds

T-Wolves Lead 2-0! Betting Preview for Nuggets vs Timberwolves NBA Playoffs Odds

If the Denver Nuggets have any shot of repeating as NBA champions, they have to win Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series at Minnesota on Friday night considering the Timberwolves already lead 2-0. They are solid favorites on the NBA odds.

Denver has 3 major injuries: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Jackson and Jamal Murray; will they be able to tip the scales a bit?

Expert Pick Timberwolves -4.5 (total 204.5)
What´s the Score? Timberwolves 107, Nuggets 104

Denver Nuggets Betting Odds +116

The Nuggets have lost the first two games of a playoff series at home for the first time. OK, we somewhat understood dropping Game 1. But, wow, getting blasted 106-80 in Game 2 was stunning considering the Timberwolves were without Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert after his first child was born early Monday. The Nuggets were frustrated all night, arguing with officials, etc. Coach Michael Malone was just begging to get kicked out but never was.

Starting guard Jamal Murray, the team’s second-best player, was terrible in Game 2 and lucky he wasn’t suspended for Game 3. Murray threw a towel toward the court during the second quarter Monday and then tossed a heat pack that made it onto the court during live play. Referee crew chief Marc Davis said Murray would have been assessed with a technical foul if they knew Murray had thrown the heat pack. He has been fined $100,000 by the NBA. Murray, who scored just eight points on 3-of-18 shooting, has been battling a calf injury during the playoffs.

Nikola Jokic has been good but not great in the series. He had 16 points on just 5-for-13 shooting along with 16 rebounds, eight assists and one block across 39 minutes during Game 2. He should have dominated considering Gobert was out. Jokic is averaging 27.0 points, 15.0 rebounds and 9.4 assists per game through seven playoff contests.

“I think they’re just draped all over Joker. I think they’re just hacking him. They’re hacking,” teammate Aaron Gordon said of this series. “Yeah, and just not being able to communicate with the officials is frustrating as well. When you have to ask them a question and they don’t even look at you, they don’t even acknowledge you, very frustrating. And I think they’re hacking Joker. I think he’s been getting fouled all year. I don’t think he shoots nearly enough free throws, of what he should shoot. So yeah, it was just frustrating. I don’t like seeing my big fella get hacked with no calls.”

Michael Porter Jr. barely showed up in Game 2 with only nine points in 39 minutes. Gordon might have been the best Denver player with 20 points and four rebounds. Backup point guard Reggie Jackson tallied three points on 1-for-6 shooting in 10 minutes.

Already dealing with a sore left ankle, Jackson hobbled off the court during the fourth quarter with tightness in his left calf. While Denver announced that he was questionable to return, the veteran point guard remained in the locker room. The only production Denver received from its bench in Game 2 was from Justin Holiday, who shot 4-of-5 from three and finished with 13 points, two rebounds, and one assist.

If Denver can come back from a 2-0 deficit, it would rank right up there with the two 3-1 series comebacks the team had from the bubble in the 2020 playoffs. This Timberwolves squad is healthier, deeper and hungrier than the Nuggets as the series shifts to Minneapolis.

Last postseason, the Nuggets were 10-1 in Denver. This year, they’re 3-2, and two of those wins required last-second shots from Murray.

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Minnesota Timberwolves Betting Odds -141

The Timberwolves appear younger, more athletic and simply hungrier than the defending champs. The 106-80 beatdown in Game 2 was a masterclass on defense. The Wolves’ rotations, aggression, hustle and quick hands were superb. The Nuggets were held to 35 points in the first half, 15 in the second quarter, and a season-low 80 for the game.

“It’s been our identity all year,” said coach Chris Finch. “We got some really good defensive efforts on the ball, off the ball, physicality, execution of the gameplan, doing it over and over again. “The physical and mental toughness was great. We really went after it on defense.”

And this was without center Rudy Gobert, who won his record-tying fourth Defensive Player of the Year Award earlier this week. The 31-year-old also won the honor in 2018, 2019 and 2021 with the Utah Jazz and joins Hall of Fame centers Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace as the only four-time winners. Gobert will play in Game 3.

By far Minnesota’s best player in these playoffs has been All-Star guard Anthony Edwards, who is now a flat-out star. Edwards notched 27 points, seven assists and two steals in Game 2. The former No. 1 overall pick couldn’t repeat the 43-point performance from Game 1, but he was highly efficient. Edwards has been almost unstoppable since the start of the playoffs and is averaging 32.3 points per game while keeping the Timberwolves undefeated through six games contests so far.

Karl-Anthony Towns really stepped up with Gobert out and had 27 points and 12 boards. It was KAT’s third double-double over his last four playoff appearances, and he’s expected to return to his role at power forward for Game 3.

While Edwards and KAT led the offensive attack for the Wolves, it was fellow starter Jaden McDaniels who turned in the game’s best plus-minus mark (+26) despite recording as many fouls as points (5) and making just 2-of-7 shots from the floor.

“He hasn’t connected in the scoring column, but my God, he’s a +26. The other day he was a +23,” Finch said. “He didn’t have a bucket. He’s got five points in the series and he’s a +50. It’s not about how you score, it’s about how you help your team win.”

Nickeil Alexander-Walker was excellent off the bench with 14 points and six rebounds. Alexander-Walker averaged just 8.0 points per game during the regular season, but he’s taken his play to another level in the playoffs, scoring in double digits in four of his six appearances while upping his scoring average to 11.3 points per game.

The Wolves, like they did with Phoenix last series, didn’t just win the game, they seemed to break the Nuggets’ soul in holding them to 35% shooting and forcing 19 turnovers.

“The body language of our guys is not where I think it needs to be,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said after Game 2. “We got beat up in our building. We got embarrassed in front of our fans.”

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Nuggets at Timberwolves Info

When: Friday, 9:30 PM ET
Where: Target Center
TV: ESPN
Stream: ESPN+
Radio: Tunein.com

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