Our Clients:

Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

May 3, 2024 5:23 pm

Nuggets plenty familiar with Wolves in rematch of ’23 playoff series

jokic towns

Last year, the Minnesota Timberwolves were a stepping stone to an NBA championship. This time around, Minnesota is a roadblock to the Denver Nuggets’ quest for a repeat.

The much-anticipated matchup of the familiar foes and the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds in the West begins with Game 1 of the conference semifinals on Saturday night in Denver.

“We see them four times a year. We saw them in the playoffs last year,” Nuggets guard Jamal Murray said. “We know what they like to do, and they know what we like to do. I think the series will be decided on who can do a better job of taking away the strengths of the other team.”

Denver needed just five games to dispatch Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs in 2023, but it was a competitive series that former Nuggets guard Bruce Brown said was the toughest of the four rounds.

Anthony Edwards missed a jumper at the buzzer of Game 5 that would have forced overtime, and the Timberwolves have built upon that experience.

They swept Phoenix in the first round — after losing all three games to the Suns in the regular season — and looked formidable doing it. They are rested and relatively healthy, led by Edwards, who became the go-to guy when Karl-Anthony Towns was injured in the regular season.

Minnesota is confident but knows it will be tough to overcome Denver’s experience.

“They have the championship pedigree,” Towns said. “They’ve got guys who, almost all of them, have been there, winning a championship with them.”

Health is always a key in the playoffs, and the Timberwolves’ biggest injury is to head coach Chris Finch. He suffered a ruptured patella tendon in his right knee in the closing seconds of Game 4 against the Suns and had it surgically repaired Wednesday.

If Finch is unable to patrol the sidelines, assistant Micah Nori will serve as the acting head coach.

Health will also determine how far the Nuggets go. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who will likely draw the defensive assignment on Edwards, sprained his ankle in Game 5 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night but stayed in the game, albeit clearly hobbled.

A more serious concern is Murray’s left calf. He talked his way into playing Monday despite being compromised by it, and his persuasive argument resulted in him eliminating Los Angeles with a game-winning jumper with 3.6 seconds left in a 108-106 victory.

Denver coach Michael Malone told reporters Friday that Caldwell-Pope has been a full participant in the two practices this week while Murray has been in and out.

The Nuggets’ chances of winning the series will greatly diminish without Murray, and they will have to lean even more on presumptive MVP Nikola Jokic, who will battle with Towns and Rudy Gobert up front.

The familiarity between the teams extends beyond the four games they split during the regular season.

The main architect of Denver’s title team, Tim Connelly, was hired away by Minnesota two years ago to be its president of basketball operations.

Finch and Nori were once on Malone’s staff, and Nuggets assistants David Adelman and Ryan Saunders were once Minnesota coaches.

–Field Level Media

You may also like

connecticut sun
May 20, 2024 9:55 pm

Fever competitive but lose to Sun to remain winless

Tyasha Harris scored 13 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter, including two critical free throws with 11.3 seconds left, as the Connecticut Sun defeated the Indiana Fever 88-84…

ionescu
May 20, 2024 9:24 pm

Sabrina Ionescu, Liberty get by Storm to move to 4-0

Sabrina Ionescu scored a game-high 20 points and dished out eight assists Monday night as the unbeaten New York Liberty never trailed in a 74-63 win over the visiting Seattle…

Dearica Hamby
May 20, 2024 8:38 pm

Mystics, Sparks look to end winless starts to season

The Washington Mystics and Los Angeles Sparks are both looking for their first win of the season. One of the squads will get that elusive victory on Tuesday night when…

More Basketball News

connecticut sun
May 20, 2024 9:55 pm

Fever competitive but lose to Sun to remain winless

Tyasha Harris scored 13 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter, including two critical free throws with 11.3 seconds left, as the Connecticut Sun defeated the Indiana Fever 88-84…

ionescu
May 20, 2024 9:24 pm

Sabrina Ionescu, Liberty get by Storm to move to 4-0

Dearica Hamby
May 20, 2024 8:38 pm

Mystics, Sparks look to end winless starts to season

copper mercury
May 20, 2024 8:04 pm

Aces aim for 3-0 start against Kahleah Copper, Mercury

Caitlin Clark
May 20, 2024 8:02 pm

Caitlin Clark hurts left ankle, exits Fever-Sun game

Read all
fb-post
advertisment
title-icon

Upcoming events

See all odds