Not often do you see two teams needing to win their last game for a playoff spot in any major sport, much less NBA since the season is so long. But tonight, in Minnesota, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Denver Nuggets are playing for just that, a playoff spot. The winner moves on to face the Houston Rockets in the first round while the other is done for the season. The Timberwolves are -3 point favorites in this game.
The Timberwolves hold the advantage on the season series thus far over the Nuggets 2-1, but no game is as important as this one. The Timberwolves do have the home floor advantage in this game and they perform really well at home and the Nuggets struggle on the road. The Timberwolves come in with a 29-11 home record and the Nuggets sit at 15-25 on the road.
The Timberwolves Have Been Struggling as of Late
Over their last ten games the Timberwolves are 6-4, including winning their last two games. They have scored 113 points in their last two wins and have a bunch of momentum going into their last game. Jimmy Butler made his return just five nights ago in a win over the Lakers. With Butler back, after a 17-game absence the Timberwolves will be able to do more on offense.
Butler returns from injury close to the playoffs, but don’t discount the other players that they have on the roster. Butler leads the team in scoring at 22 points a game but center Karl-Anthony Towns is right behind him at 21.2 points a game. Towns also leads the team with 9.2 rebounds a game. Minnesota is scoring 109.5 points a game this year, a 3.9 point a game better than last year.
Will the Nuggets Road Struggles do them in
The Nuggets have struggled on the road this year going just 15-25. They are sixth in the NBA scoring 109.3 points a game on the road but their defense is what hurts them. Winners of eight in a row, the Nuggets struggled through their last game. Against the Trail Blazers, the Nuggets scored just 88 points with just 14 in the second quarter. The defense locked down in the final frame as they only gave up 13 in the come from behind win.
The Nuggets last losses came on March 26th and March 27th, the first of which was a 123-104 beatdown by the 76ers followed by a close 114-110 loss to the Raptors. After those two away games, the Nuggets never looked back scoring 100 or more points in every game other than the last one. In the last outing, Nikola Jokic had a phenomenal game posting 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. This was one of his best games of the year and another game is needed like this tonight.
The Timberwolves Race into the Playoffs
The Timberwolves are so good at home that I just don’t see them losing this game. The Nuggets struggle on the road so much that it should continue into tonight’s game. This team is very solid and with the return of Butler, they should easily run through this team. They are better at four of the five positions on the floor.
This game is for all the marbles, the eight seed in the Western Conference. I am taking the Timberwolves to cruise over the Nuggets, even though the Nuggets have been blazing hot the last two weeks. The Timberwolves will take the game and meet the Rockets in the first round. Take the Timberwolves to beat the Nuggets by three or more points tonight.
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