The Timberwolves Torched The Nuggets To Force A Game 7 In Denver

After Nikola Jokic put forth one of the best games of his career in Game 5, the Nuggets looked primed to punch a ticket to another Western Conference Finals. Denver had seemingly cracked the code on both ends of the floor against the Timberwolves to win three straight, and not many outside of Minneapolis were picking the Wolves to force a Game 7.

However, an inspired effort from Minnesota sent the series back to Denver for a winner-take-all game, thanks to an utterly dominant showing from the Wolves in a 115-70 win.

It did not look like it was going to be that kind of night in the first few minutes. The Nuggets jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead to force a timeout from Minnesota, and things were tense in the Target Center.

But whatever was said in that timeout locked Minnesota into the right mindset and they came out and blitzed the Nuggets, going on a 27-2 run to take control of the game — and they would never look back.

The Wolves were getting incredible performances up and down the roster on Thursday night, but as is typically the case when Minnesota is at their best, they followed the lead of their young superstar Anthony Edwards, who finished the night with 27 points.

While Karl-Anthony Towns had a terrific night on the glass and was much better defensively, the support for Edwards offensively came from Jaden McDaniels, as he was lethal shooting the ball and attacking the rim, finishing with 21 points.

On the other end, the Nuggets were simply unable to pry the lid off of the basket. Minnesota was relentless with sending doubles at Jokic, and coupled that with crisp rotations on the backside to smother Denver’s perimeter players with length. The result was a horrendous shooting performance from the Nuggets, as they simply could not buy a bucket. Denver shot 30.2 percent from the field, with Minnesota walling off the paint and daring Denver to beat them from three, which they simply could not, hitting just 19.4 percent from deep on 36 attempts.

The main culprit for Denver’s woes was Jamal Murray, as he could not force the Wolves to pull any of their attention away from Jokic, going just 4-of-18 from the field. He certainly wasn’t alone in shooting struggles, as Michael Porter Jr. and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were a combined 5-of-14, and the bench didn’t score their first points until the fourth quarter. Denver made a brief second quarter push, but they just never had anything for Minnesota on either end. With over 9 minutes to go in the fourth and facing a 30-point deficit, Michael Malone pulled the plug and emptied the bench. Shortly after, Minnesota did the same and Anthony Edwards let the crowd know where they were headed.

The defensive performance of Minnesota was truly sensational, and the Nuggets will have a couple days to regroup adn figure out what they’ll need to do to have more success on Sunday. That starts with hitting open looks and getting more out of Murray, but they can’t simply bank on hitting more threes and have to get back to their identity of attacking the paint.

The Wolves, meanwhile, will finally feel like they have their legs back under them after three tough outings in a row, and will be thinking about picking up their third road win of the series. Game 7 will be Sunday, with the time still TBD, and as Zaza always says there will be nothing easy.