The Minnesota Timberwolves managed to force a Game 5 by winning at home on Sunday and will travel back to Ball Arena in Denver for another go-round against the Nuggets in this series.
Game 5 for the Nuggets is not a must-win situation, yet they will have plenty of incentive to close things out quickly. Their likely second-round opponent – Phoenix Suns – have an opportunity to secure a second-round spot later Tuesday night; thus, any defeat would mean at least two additional trips back and forth from Minneapolis.
In Game 1, Denver easily defeated Minnesota; however, that loss must be seen as one of the tougher schedule defeats of this postseason. Minnesota was coming off two Play-In games while Jokic had had ample rest leading up to it and looked very fresh; not meant to hold Denver accountable here – instead, just providing more context to their win in that lopsided fashion. Game 2 saw Minnesota lead after three quarters before Denver made a late push and secured their 2-0 series advantage.
The pattern has been evident throughout this matchup, with the Wolves, who had one of the better first-quarter and first-half records this season, faltering down the stretch. Meanwhile, Nuggets won fourth quarter games 1-4 while tying game one. With Game 5 now coming at home with no need for travel expenses to play on, I expect this trend to continue.
Though they deserve credit for winning Game 4, Minnesota could have easily lost it late with poor execution, as the Nuggets used a 12-0 run in the final three minutes to force overtime, but Minnesota pulled themselves together and got the game 4 win.
Anthony Edwards has been one of the highlights of this series so far for the Nuggets, averaging 32.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 4.3 steals+blocks per game and doing so on 48/41/86 shooting. No surprise, given his pedigree and flashes shown over time, but watching his team blossom under his leadership is exciting.
Karl-Anthony Towns has also been unsurprising but in a negative way. His points per game have decreased from 20.8 in regular season play to 16.3 during this series.
With another win-or-go-home matchup scheduled on Tuesday, I plan to allow both players to show me who they are under pressure situations. I will focus my observations on Ant overs and KAT unders as much as possible.
I look for Minnesota to stay in this game for the first three quarters, and as usual in this series, the Nuggets take over in the fourth quarter and pull away to clinch this series.
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