Game 2 Preview: Minnesota at Denver

Game 2 Preview: Minnesota at Denver

Denver Nuggets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Line: Denver -8

Total: 223.5

Where: Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado

When: Wednesday, 4/19 at 10:00 p.m. ET


No. 8 seed Minnesota entered the first round of the playoffs with momentum, having covered the spread in five consecutive games.

The Timberwolves were unable to maintain that head of steam against top-seeded Denver in Sunday’s series opener, getting blown out in a 109-80 final as 8.5-point underdogs. They were outscored 32-14 in the third quarter and were held to 80 or fewer points for the first time since Nov. 19, 2016.

“It’s the NBA. It’s not forgiving. Just things happen,” Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns said. “They did a great job, give them credit. They had a long week preparing for us and they got ready and you could tell on the court they knew our plays and knew what they were doing. So, we’ve just got to come back ready for Game 2.”

Oddsmakers did not adjust their opinion following the rout, opening Denver as an 8-point favorite for Wednesday’s Game 2. The betting market has briefly shifted that line to -8.5, but it’s back down to -8 this morning. The total has remained at 223.5 points.

Denver’s Jamal Murray scored 24 points and dished out eight assists in his first playoff game since the 2020 NBA bubble after suffering a knee injury in 2021. He scored 50 points twice against Utah when Denver reached the Western Conference Finals in 2020.

“It is kind of wild to think it’s been that long,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I’m just so happy for him, proud of him. It has not been an easy journey for him, but I think this year, we’ve seen Jamal have moments where that’s the Jamal Murray that we all love and remember.”

Michael Porter Jr. also returned to the playoffs after missing last year’s run with a back injury. He scored 18 points, while two-time MVP Nikola Jokic had 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in 28 minutes as all five starters scored in double figures.

Minnesota was without starting forward Jaden McDaniels (hand), who is the team’s best perimeter defender, and he is going to remain sidelined indefinitely. Shooting guard Anthony Edwards led the Timberwolves with 18 points and five assists on 6 of 15 shooting after averaging a team-high 24.6 points per game during the regular season.

Towns only played in 29 games this season, averaging 20.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. He had more turnovers and missed shots (14) than points (11) in the series opener. The Timberwolves ranked No. 13 in the NBA in scoring (115.8) during the regular season, while Denver was No. 12 (115.8).

Jokic, Murray and Porter Jr. spearheaded Denver’s run to the top seed in the Western Conference, with each of them averaging at least 17 points per game. Jokic put himself in contention for a third straight MVP with 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists.

Denver has now won 15 of the last 20 meetings between these teams, but Minnesota has covered in six of the last eight games. The Timberwolves have gone ‘under’ in six of their last seven games, while Denver has gone ‘under’ in 12 of its last 14 games. However, these teams have cashed the ‘over’ in six of their last eight head-to-head meetings.

The pick: Minnesota +8

There’s no debating which team was the correct side in Game 1, but it’s going to be tough for Denver to replicate that performance on Wednesday night. The Nuggets were in a much better scheduling spot after the Timberwolves were coming off multiple play-in tournament games. Minnesota was also adjusting to the McDaniels injury and Gobert was a game-time decision. The Timberwolves’ effort should be much stronger in Game 2, especially with the team needing to generate some momentum before the series shifts to Minnesota. These teams split their four regular-season meetings, so the value is on the Timberwolves in this spot.

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