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May 16, 2024 1:35 pm

Nuggets underdogs to close out Wolves in Game 6

Nikola Jokic

The Denver Nuggets have reeled off three impressive victories to put themselves one game away from the Western Conference Finals, but the reigning champs are underdogs ahead of Game 6 at Minnesota on Thursday.

TRENDING
The Wolves are 2.0- to 2.5-point favorites ahead of Game 6 at most sportsbooks.

The line has held steady at 2.5 at BetMGM, despite the Nuggets being backed by 77 percent of the spread-line money. Meanwhile, Denver’s moneyline has moved from +120 to +110 with the Nuggets backed by 92 percent of the money.

The 2.0-point line at BetRivers has drawn similar action, with the Wolves backed by just 31 percent of the money. The Nuggets +114 moneyline at the book has been backed by 79 percent of the money.

PROP PICKS
–Nikola Jokic Over 25.5 points (-215 at BetRivers): The Nuggets’ superstar is coming off arguably the best performance in this year’s postseason, scoring 40 points on 15-for-22 shooting in Game 5. He has 99 points in his past three games. Despite the short odds, this has received the most support with 2.1 percent of all money wagered on Game 6 player props.

–Anthony Edwards Under 6.5 Assists (-135 at BetMGM): The Under has drawn 99 percent of the bets at the book. Edwards is coming off a nine-assist effort in Game 5, but has gone under 6.5 in three of the first five games of the series. In order to force a Game 7, the Wolves need Edwards to be a scorer first, distributor second.

THE NEWS
Denver, which lost the first two games of the series, has responded with three wins in a row to seize a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series. The Nuggets are coming off a 112-97 win in Game 5 on Tuesday night to push the Timberwolves into an elimination game.

How is Minnesota feeling after Jokic’s latest superstar performance?

“I just laugh, man,” Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards said. “That’s all I can do. I can’t be mad.

“Because he’s good, man. … He’s the MVP, best player in the NBA. He showed it the last three games. He was special (in Game 5). I’ve got to give him his flowers. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do. He was that guy (on Tuesday).”

The Timberwolves will have to find a way to slow Jokic and force a winner-take-all Game 7, which would be Sunday in Denver.

Denver could have felt down after falling behind 0-2 in the series, including a 26-point shellacking in Game 2. But coach Michael Malone challenged his group and showed them comments from national prognosticators who declared the series all but over after two games.

The Nuggets responded by outscoring Minnesota by an average of 16.7 points per game since then.

“It took a lot of effort to get back into this series, but it was an effort that our guys were committed to,” Malone said. “I think that effort was a big part of why we won (Tuesday). We had 30 assists, so that says a lot about how well we moved the basketball. We got in transition and got easy buckets.

“We are obviously not satisfied. Now we have to go up to Minnesota and try to close it out, and that’s always the toughest game.”

INJURY REPORT
Timberwolves guard Mike Conley did not play on Tuesday because of soreness in his right Achilles tendon. Conley is listed as questionable on the injury report for Game 6.

STARS ALIGNING
Jokic leads the Nuggets with 28.8 points per game in the playoffs this season. Jamal Murray is next with 20.2 points per game in the postseason, while Michael Porter Jr. is averaging 17.4.

Edwards is averaging 30.6 points per game in the playoffs to lead the Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns ranks second with 19.3 points and center Rudy Gobert is averaging 12.6 points.

THEY SAID IT
Gobert, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, said he and his teammates need to stay positive — especially where Jokic is concerned.

“We’ve got to keep our head,” Gobert said. “I think that’s the story for us. We know he’s a one-of-a-kind player. We know he’s going to make some incredible plays. But we’ve got to keep at it. …

“The second half (on Tuesday), we got a little too demoralized. We can’t have that.”

–Field Level Media

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