NBA playoffs: Timberwolves swarm Nuggets to take commanding 2-0 series lead over champs

the Minnesota Timberwolves Played on Monday Without Defensive Player of the Year finalist Rudy Gobert.

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The Timberwolves have imposed restrictions on Denver Nuggets From the side of the opening and go to 106-80 blowout win. The point total was the lowest this season for Denver and the second time in two playoff games the Timberwolves have held the Nuggets under 100 points.

With this win, Minnesota took a 2-0 lead in a two-game winning streak over the defending NBA champions.

Barring major adjustments in Games 3 and 4, the champions would have played their last home game of the season. The Timberwolves have been the better team through two games by a wide margin and head back to Minnesota with a chance to close out the series at home.

It adds up to an amazing first two conference semifinal games from a Nuggets team that has never trailed in a series and lost just four playoff games en route to the NBA title last season. There was little Monday that resembled a title contender from the home team that struggled to get anything going against the best defense in the NBA.

Minnesota's defense overpowered Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets on Monday.  (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)Minnesota's defense overpowered Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets on Monday.  (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Minnesota’s defense was overwhelmed Nikola Jokic And the Nuggets on Monday. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Minnesota picked up where it left off Monday after Friday’s 106-99 win. The Timberwolves led 28-20 in the first quarter, with Nuggets stars Jamal Murray and… Michael Porter Jr Without goals in the process. Murray suffered a long-term calf injury that he suffered in the first round against… Los Angeles Lakers. The Timberwolves exploited this vulnerability repeatedly with defensive pressure and traps that befuddled the Nuggets point guard.

Effort was rewarded in the box score. At halftime, Murray remained scoreless, limiting MVP favorite Nikola Jokic to eight points. The first-half point total from Denver’s two leading scorers was its lowest of the season.

On offense, Anthony Edwards continued to do his job. The rising star scored 16 points in the first half on the heels of his 43-point outburst in Game 1. His All-Star teammate Karl Anthony Towns He had 20 at the break as Denver failed to match Minnesota’s defensive mettle.

Minnesota outscored Denver 33-15 in the second quarter on its way to a 61-35 lead at halftime. The 26-point deficit was the largest at home in Nuggets playoff history.

There was no challenge from Denver after halftime. The Timberwolves expanded their lead in the third quarter to 73-41, and the Nuggets did not reduce the gap to 19 points again.

With the Timberwolves leading 95-70 and Edwards at the free throw line, MVP chants erupted for the burgeoning Minnesota star. Home fans began to file out of Ball Arena. Nuggets coach Michael Malone emptied the bench with more than three minutes remaining, giving the Timberwolves a 99-75 lead.

Edwards once again led the Timberwolves with 27 points, along with seven assists, two rebounds and two steals. He continued to attack the basket and score the tough buckets that have become his signature throughout these playoffs.

Towns shared the lead with 27 points, 12 rebounds, one steal and two blocks.

Sixth Man of the Year Naz Red He assumed Gobert’s role as a rim protector with 14 points, four rebounds and four blocks in 29 minutes off the bench. Nikhil Alexander Walker Tasked with pressing the perimeter, he recorded 14 points, six rebounds and three blocks off the bench. Four Timberwolves players recorded two steals each.

Aaron Gordon She was the lone offensive bright spot for Denver with 20 points on a night on 8-of-14 shooting. Jokic was the only other Nuggets player in double figures with 16 points along with 16 rebounds and eight assists. He shot 5 of 13 from the field and recorded four turnovers, which was an improvement from his tally of seven turnovers in Game 1.

Murray finished with eight points, 13 rebounds, two assists and two steals. He turned the ball over four times and shot 3-of-18 from the field. He missed all four of his three-point attempts. Denver must make a decision before Game 3 on Friday if Murray doesn’t show significant improvement from a calf injury.

As a team, the Nuggets shot 34.9% from the field and 30% (9 of 30) from 3-point range. They committed 16 turnovers. The Timberwolves responded with a 50.6% effort from the field and a 39.4% (13-of-33) shooting from beyond the arc.

Once again, the Timberwolves did all of this without Gobert, who was home Monday morning for the birth of his child. He attempted to travel to Denver in time for Monday’s game, but weather complications prevented his arrival. He should be ready to go for Game 3 with the Timberwolves up 2-0.

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