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The top seed in the Western Conference, touting the reigning two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic, look to establish dominance over the Play-In Tournament-winning Minnesota Timberwolves. The Minnesota Timberwolves earned the eighth seed by winning in the second round of the NBA Play-In Tournament, accruing an overall record of 42-40 and a road record of 20-21.
The Denver Nuggets closed out the season with a 53-29 overall record and an impressive 34-7 home record. The Nuggets and Timberwolves will face off Sunday evening on TNT, closing the day's playoff festivities. If you want to bet on Game 1 between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Denver Nuggets, take advantage of our exclusive promo code WSNFULL, which will get you up to $1250 as a welcome bonus when you sign up at Caesars Sportsbook! WSN.com is your number one source for Game 1 odds, previews, and predictions for the matchup between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Denver Nuggets!
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Minnesota Timberwolves ATS Record: 42-42-0
The Minnesota Timberwolves entered the NBA Play-In Tournament surrounded by controversy and reports of internal strife, but they were able to qualify for the 2023 NBA Playoffs regardless. As the eighth seed, they'll face the top-ranked Denver Nuggets, setting up a clash between Nikola Jokic and the Timberwolves' defensive juggernaut Rudy Gobert.
The efficiency of the Timberwolves' offense is nothing to scoff at, posting 115.8 points per game (13th in the NBA) on 49.0% from the field (3rd in the NBA) while also dishing 26.2 assists per game (8th in the NBA). Their defensive pressure is also something to consider, as they force 15.4 turnovers per game (5th in the NBA) and collect 8.0 steals (5th in the NBA) and 5.4 blocks (4th in the NBA) per contest.
The Nuggets have given the Timberwolves a willing partner in their offensive pace. Averaging 120.5 points per game on 51.5% shooting from the field through two games against the Nuggets, the T-Wolves should be encouraged on the offensive end. Unfortunately, they should clean up their defense which has allowed 119.3 points per game on 52.6% from the field in four meetings with Denver.
Karl-Anthony Towns has been excellent for the Timberwolves, and he's coming off of an outstanding performance to push his Timberwolves from the Play-In to the Playoffs. In his last game, Towns posted 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks on 68.7% shooting from the field in 29 minutes of play. His scoring ability can be a difference-maker for the Timberwolves against a Nuggets team that lack the size to match him.
A defensive anchor criticized for his offensive contributions, Rudy Gobert posted a solid 21 points and 10 rebounds on 54.5% shooting from the field against the Thunder. He'll be tasked with protecting the paint against the Nuggets in a matchup that could decide the series between him and Jokic.
Anthony Edwards was the player of the Timberwolves' season this year, but he's been inconsistent through the Play-In and needs to get back in rhythm to keep up with Denver's offense.
Denver Nuggets ATS Record: 44-37-1
The most efficient scoring team in the NBA, the Denver Nuggets, is an intimidating matchup. After criticism of the Denver Nuggets' post-season performance last year, reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic led his side to the top seed in the Western Conference - over powerhouses like the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns! Despite undergoing few significant changes through the season, the return of Jamal Murray and another award-worthy season from Nikola Jokic has allowed the Nuggets to hone their productivity on both ends of the court.
The Denver Nuggets may only average 115.8 points per game (12th in the NBA), but they scored on 50.4% efficiency from the field (1st in the NBA) and 37.9% from three-point range (4th in the NBA). They're also excellent defensively, holding teams to 112.5 points per game (8th in the NBA) while limiting teams to just 11.4 threes (3rd in the NBA) and 40.8 rebounds (1st in the NBA). The Nuggets are a problematic outing for any NBA team, so their chances at victory will be significantly decided by their performance.
They face a Minnesota Timberwolves team that has given them real trouble through four meetings this season. Both sides have found their offense against the other, so the defensive side of the ball will decide the game. Denver isn't the most prolific defensive team, but their ability to limit shooters can help swing the game in their favor.
Nikola Jokic is, without a doubt, the most important player on the Denver Nuggets. The two-time MVP averages 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 9.8 rebounds per game on 63.2% from the field and 38.3% from the three-point range. Leading the league in triple-doubles with 29, no player in the league single-handedly contributes to his team's success more than Jokic.
After missing the entirety of last season due to an ACL injury, Jamal Murray was renewed and productive through 65 games this season. Averaging 20.0 points, 6.2 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per game, Murray's role as a secondary contributor will be critical to Denver's chances at victory.
Designated sniper Michael Porter Jr. played the most games of his career this season, and his good health was apparent, averaging 17.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game on 48.7% shooting from the field and 41.4% from three.
It's been, for the most part, a blowout for the winning teams through their regular season series. The Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets are two productive and efficient offensive teams. Minnesota finally has a healthy enough roster to compete on the offensive end with Denver, but their perimeter defense is sure to let them down.
The total for this matchup is set at 224.5. After averaging 239.8 points per game through four meetings, these teams' pace should be impressive.
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
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