Nuggets at Timberwolves Preview
The final day of the regular season will decide seeding in each conference and give several teams a chance to get healthy or build momentum heading into the playoffs, but only one game is win or go home. The Minnesota Timberwolves host the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, and the winner will advance to the postseason while the loser heads to the offseason earlier than anticipated.
The Timberwolves were in third place in the Western Conference at several points this season and could still finish as high as fifth with a win on Wednesday and some help, or they could miss the playoffs and continue a tough stretch in which the franchise has not qualified for the postseason since 2004. “Don’t nobody like losing,” Minnesota All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler told reporters. “Nobody in this locker room does at least. I think this city deserves to be in the playoffs. We’re the only ones who control that. … If we win this game Wednesday, I think that puts us in the playoffs, right? So that’s what we’ve got to do.” The Nuggets are coming in hot with wins in the last six games and are well acquainted with win or go home basketball after needing a win to stay alive on Monday. Denver managed to overcome an 11-point, second-half deficit and earn an 88-82 victory while holding Portland to 13 points in the fourth quarter.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Altitude (Denver), FS North (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE NUGGETS (46-35): Denver center Nikola Jokic is driving the team forward and collected 15 points, 20 rebounds and 11 assists in Monday’s win for his second straight triple-double and 10th of the season. The 23-year-old is averaging 23.7 points, 16 rebounds and 8.2 assists during the six-game winning streak but suffered through his worst shooting night of the stretch in a 100-96 home win over Minnesota on Thursday, when he went 6-of-20 from the floor. Shooting guard Gary Harris missed that meeting with a knee injury but returned from an 11-game absence on Monday and eased back into the rotation with 12 points in 18 minutes off the bench.
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (46-35): Minnesota picked up wins in the last two games, coinciding with Butler’s return from knee surgery. The veteran swingman played 23 minutes against the Lakers and the Grizzlies and averaged 16.5 points while going a combined 10-of-18 from the floor, and he was not afraid to call out his team after it fell behind the lowly Grizzlies by 10 points in the first half on Monday. “We were just playing soft,” Butler told reporter. “We tend to do that from time to time. Whenever we play hard, good things happen.”
1. Timberwolves PF Taj Gibson (neck) was limited to eight minutes on Monday and is questionable for Wednesday.
2. Nuggets SF Will Barton is averaging 20.3 points during the winning streak, raising his season mark to 15.6.
3. Denver snapped a four-game losing streak in the series with Thursday’s win and is looking for its first victory at Minnesota since Nov. 3, 2016.