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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

May 11, 2024 8:49 pm

Nuggets hope to replicate road success, knot series with Wolves

nuggets, timberwolves

Before the Denver Nuggets stepped foot on the court — and before they even boarded their team plane to travel to Minnesota — coach Michael Malone issued a two-part challenge to his group of defending champions.

“I asked them did they believe that we could go to Minnesota and play against a great team and win two games,” Malone said. “We got one. Now, the challenge is can we repeat the same performance and get another one against that same great team?”

The Nuggets will look to pull even with the Minnesota Timberwolves in a Western Conference semifinal series when the teams meet for Game 4 on Sunday night in Minneapolis.

The Timberwolves hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Minnesota won the first two games in Denver, including a 26-point victory in Game 2 on Monday. The Nuggets responded with a resounding 117-90 win on Friday on the Timberwolves’ home court to set up a pivotal fourth game of the series.

Anthony Edwards pointed the finger at himself for not bringing enough energy into what turned out to be a 27-point loss in Game 3. But the Timberwolves’ star guard said that he and his teammates would not hang their heads going into Game 4.

“There’s no reason to be negative,” Edwards said. “They won one game. We’re going to try to win the next game. It’s the first to four (wins), it’s not the first to one.

“If it was first one to one (win), we’d have already won the series. We’ll be alright.”

Edwards has averaged 30.4 points in seven postseason games. Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging 19.7 points and 8.4 rebounds in the playoffs, and Rudy Gobert is averaging 12.0 points and 10.2 boards.

The Nuggets are led by Nikola Jokic, who is averaging 26.6 points, 14.9 rebounds and 9.4 assists in the postseason. Jamal Murray is averaging 20.9 points in the playoffs, and Michael Porter Jr. is averaging 20.5.

Murray will look to stay hot after helping turn around the Nuggets’ fortunes on Friday. He scored 25 points on 9-for-32 shooting in his first two games of the series combined, but he bounced back with 24 points on 11-for-21 shooting in Game 3.

Timberwolves fans started booing Murray during pregame warmups and never let up. They were frustrated with the Nuggets guard after he threw a heat pack on the court in Game 2, prompting a $100,000 fine from the NBA.

Murray said the boos helped him instead of hurting him.

“That definitely fueled me during the game,” he said. “And just keeps me in that mode. So it’s fun. I embrace that challenge.”

Now the challenge turns to Minnesota and whether it can rediscover its dominant defense from the series’ first two games. The Timberwolves held the Nuggets to 99 points in Game 1 and 80 points in Game 2.

Minnesota guard Mike Conley said the team’s confidence remains high.

“We’ve been good all year at, when we take an L, we learn from it and adjust really quick,” he said. “Our guys take it personal, get angry and somehow flip a switch. Say it’s-not-going-to-happen-again type of attitude.

“And that’s what we need to have. We’ve got to continue to be the urgent, desperate team that we’ve played like all year.”

–Field Level Media

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