While the West looks to be a gauntlet for seeds two through seven, the number one overall Nuggets are in a position to sweep the Timberwolves and get some much-needed rest before the start of the second round. They controlled a majority of game 3 to gain a 3-0 series lead over Minnesota and come into game four as a -4 favorite, per DraftKings Sportsbook. With Jokic fully healthy and running a crisp offense through his elite facilitation, my prediction is that the Nuggets comfortably get it done tonight by covering the spread.
Denver Nuggets vs Minnesota Timberwolves Prediction
Turns out I had nothing to worry about with Jokic nursing a wrist injury in game three as he once again churned out a triple double in a dominant winning performance. Jokic finished the contest with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists while once again conducting one of the more efficient offenses in the league. His availability had question marks all over it leading up to tip off for game three but turns out he was good to go as he played 38 minutes.
With Jokic now deemed healthy, I have full conviction that we are in for another masterful performance as he leads the Nuggets to a series sweep. Especially in a matchup perspective as both Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns struggle to limit his playmaking ability as Jokic can burn them at all three levels. Gobert is an elite interior defender, but he can be prone to getting beat while backpedaling against Jokic’s drives.
With Jokic being able to shoot over the top of Towns and finish against Gobert, the Timberwolves help side defenders are forced to shade against him which creates gaps for the Nuggets to exploit. This plays into their hands as they have done a masterful job of surrounding Jokic with lethal shooters. The Nuggets currently rank third in the league in Three Point Completion Percentage by shooting 38% from deep per TeamRankings. In comparison, Minnesota ranks 24th in defending the perimeter by allowing a completion percentage of 37%.
Denver Nuggets vs Minnesota Timberwolves Betting Odds
After opening them as a slight favorite in game three, oddsmakers have increased their belief in the Nuggets to get the job done by opening them as a -3.5 favorite in game four. Bettors are in agreement with oddsmakers, backing the Nuggets up to -4.5 as of writing. I managed to get a piece at -3.5 and would play this at no higher than -5.5 as the Timberwolves should continue to struggle in limiting the Nuggets scoring output.
As for the total, oddsmakers believe points will be scored at a moderate pace as they opened the number at 224.5. Bettors believe we may see an uptick in defensive production as they have backed the under down to 223.5. This is an immediate stay away for me as the Nuggets blow out potential brings too much end game variance for my liking as we may see them pack it in to allow extra rest for their starters.
- Nuggets are 24-7-1 ATS in the last 32 meetings in Minnesota
- Over is 7-2-1 in the last 10 meetings against each other
- Nuggets are 4-0 ATS in the last four matchups against the Timberwolves
Can the Nuggets defense slow down Anthony Edwards?
Anthony Edwards Vs. Nuggets interior defense
The Timberwolves have no shortage of capable scorers as Anthony Edwards has evolved into one of the better slashing guards in the league. When Minnesota staggers Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, this opens the paint for Edwards to deal damage with as he has more room to attack with.
The Nuggets defense have been average at best in terms of efficiency per TeamRankings, but have improved since the start of the playoffs by creeping up to seventh best in the league.
In order to combat against Edwards, we may see the Nuggets throw a second defender over the top of Edwards to force the ball out of his hands. Hopefully feeding it inside to Gobert or Towns, giving the Nuggets the ability to scramble back to their assignment while Jokic anchors the interior.
Back the Nuggets at no higher than -5.5 as they should have no issue in establishing their offensive identity that revolves around the best big man in basketball with Nikola Jokic running the show.
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup
Minnesota Timberwolves Starting Lineups
Denver Nuggets Injuries: N/A
Minnesota Timberwolves Injuries: Jaden McDaniels (O), Naz Reid (O), Josh Minott (Q), Jaylen Nowell (Q)