It was a tale of two halves for game four of this 1 vs 8 matchup in the Western conference with the Timberwolves battling back in overtime after giving up a short second half lead. This evening, in a do or die scenario, the Timberwolves now hit the road as a +9.5 underdog for game five. In a must win situation, my prediction is that we will see an abundance of points being put up on the board.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs Denver Nuggets Prediction
The Nuggets ran cold in game four, stalling out from the start with Jokic picking up two early fouls and having to play timid on the offensive end. That in turn slowed down their offensive progression, playing more stagnant and getting their shooters out of rhythm. They eventually ramped up the intensity, pressuring the Timberwolves guards into back pedaling towards the rim once Jokic started to explode and created gaps on the perimeter for them to exploit.
It’s not as if Minnesota is a stout defense as they rank 12th in the league in Opposing Effective Field Goal Percentage with a 54% rate per TeamRankings. That number has since shot up since the start of playoffs, currently sitting at 58.1%. Should Jokic avoid early foul trouble in this one then the Nuggets should have no issue in creating movement around the arc with Jokic running the offense from the post. This allows him to be aggressive in a scoring effort or find an open shooter in transition.
As for the Timberwolves, the addition of Nickeil Alexander-Walker in the starting lineup has been an instant success as he brings another explosive presence to complement that of Anthony Edwards. He brings some much-needed versatility into the offense, especially when they stall out when Gobert and Towns are unable to create space with their awkward timing in the interior. When Alexander takes defensive pressure off of Edwards, then this allows him to take his man off the dribble as an elite slasher.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs Denver Nuggets Betting Odds
Even after an impressive game four overtime performance, oddsmakers have tempered their expectations going into game five by opening the Timberwolves as a +9 underdog. Bettors are in agreement with oddsmakers, taking the Timberwolves up to +10 as of writing. A six-point swing seems drastic for home court advantage, but the Timberwolves are hobbled by losing some much-needed depth per their injury report while shooting regression looms large.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 222.5. Bettors are expecting an emphasis of defensive play, taking the under down to as low as 220 in some shops. I’m in a disagreement with that movement as I expect an uptick in offense as we saw late in game four with the Nuggets getting into a groove as well as having the offense revolve more around Edwards as he grows into a true scoring threat.
- Timberwolves are 24-9 ATS in the last 33 meetings in Denver
- Over is 6-2 in the last eight matchups in Denver
- Over is 7-2-2 in the last 11 meetings overall
Can Jokic repeat game fours scoring performance against the Timberwolves bigs?
Nikola Jokic Vs. Timberwolves bigs
It was a bit of a head scratching move as Minnesota assigned the smaller Karl-Anthony Towns to guard Nikola Jokic, especially after he got in early foul trouble against Rudy Gobert. That gave Jokic the ability to shoot over the top of him while avoiding more potential foul trouble.
It’s tough to assume they would run the same game plan, but it theoretically worked as they squeaked out the win. Granted that also revolved around the Nuggets going cold for a prolonged stretch of time, only giving me more conviction towards the over with the Nuggets establishing their offense early in this one with Jokic cooking in the interior.
Take the over at no higher than 221.5 as we should see an uptick in points with both offenses firing on all cylinders in a pivotal game five for both units.
Minnesota Timberwolves Starting Lineup
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineups
Minnesota Timberwolves Injuries: Kyle Anderson (O), Jaden McDaniels (O), Naz Reid (O), Jaylen Nowell (Q)
Denver Nuggets Injuries: N/A