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Western Conference Semi-Finals Preview: Nuggets Vs Timberwolves.

The stage is set for an electric playoff series after the Denver Nuggets decimated the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2nd year in a row. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray were too much for the Lakers superstar duo, and even though Lebron James and Anthony Davis performed well, the Nuggets won the series 4-1. Jokic and Murray put together an offensive tandem that is becoming the stuff of legends. The Lakers' front office was so devastated by the loss that they fired Head Coach Darvin Ham and their entire assistant coaching staff three days later.

Meanwhile, Anthony Edwards and The Minnesota Timberwolves swept the Phoenix Suns 4-0, with Edwards delivering multiple 30+ point performances, including a stunning 40-point performance in game four. His superstar prowess is a primary reason why the Timberwolves have made it past the first round for the first time in 20 years. His extraordinary skillset was displayed as they eliminated the Suns' big three, including all-time great Kevin Durant. The franchise has ushered in a new era of success, and now they will have to face the reigning champions in a playoff rematch from last season.

Their first regular season meeting was on November 1st, 2023, and the Timberwolves defeated the Nuggets by 21 points. The teams competed three more times, and each contest was a fierce battle, resulting in a split season series of 2-2. The Timberwolves will be confident knowing they can compete with the reigning champions, compared to last season, when they lost 4-1 in the playoffs. Both teams are fully healthy, but Karl Anthony-Towns had to be on minute restriction during the first round while reacclimating from his surgery on March 12th to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee.

The Timberwolves were ranked no.1 in the Western Conference before his injury occurred, and his absence caused them to fall to the 3rd seed after suffering two losses. He played well in the last two games of the Suns series, and he must make a significant impact against the Nuggets. They’re fortunate he can play through the pain because he draws so much attention, and that helps perimeter shooters like Jaden McDaniels 

McDaniels has gradually improved every year since the 2020 NBA Draft and performed well during the Suns series. He scored 25 points in game two, shooting 10-17, and grabbed eight rebounds. Small Forward Nickeil Alexander-Walker struggled with his jump shot after game one, but he shined on the defensive end. Rudy Gobert had a great series in the post, averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds per game in the Western Conference Quarter-Finals. He picked up the slack for 6th Man Of The Year Naz Reid, who struggled in the series. Their presence is essential because the Nuggets have great post-play, arguably the best in the league.

Gobert must prepare for Aaron Gordon’s physical play as he crashes the glass every night. Gordon had a stellar performance of 29 points and 15 rebounds in game three of the Lakers series. He finished the series averaging 13.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. His rebounding will be an X factor for the Nuggets, alongside Michael Porter Jr’s jump shooting.

Porter Jr was outstanding beyond the arc versus the Lakers, and he hit multiple daggers in the clutch. He is shooting an incredible 48% from three while averaging 22.8 points per game in the postseason. His scoring ability has reached star status after there were doubts about his development due to back injuries early in his career. Seeing how both teams gameplan for the opposing offense will be interesting. 

The Timberwolves almost lost their head coach after veteran point guard Mike Conley collided with Chris Finch on the sideline in game four of the Suns series. He received emergency surgery for a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee and will be on the sideline for game one on Saturday night. Coach Finch and Michael Malone were both in the running for Coach Of The Year, and fans deserve to witness this high-level chess match.

The regular season provided a preview of what we will witness, but the playoffs will add another layer of passion and intensity. It will be a test of wills as the Timberwolves try to reach the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2004 during the Kevin Garnett era. If the Nuggets win, the odds of defending their title increase exponentially. The series could easily go six to seven games, and both teams had adequate rest after dominating in the first round. We could be witnessing the beginning of a Western Conference rivalry that will not end anytime soon, and game one will serve as the inception.

1 Comment

We spoke about Anthony Edwards at the beginning of the season .. 43 points on Denver

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