Game Preview: Nuggets Kick Off Home Stand Against Timberwolves
The Denver Nuggets will look to bounce back when they begin a three-game home stand against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.
Denver (43-22) is coming off a 1-2 road trip and is just 1-4 in its last five games. The Nuggets have been a very strong defensive team since the All-Star break, owning the league’s second-ranked defense during that stretch. Their offense has stagnated in recent weeks, ranking just 19th in the league since returning from the break.
Minnesota (32-35) heads into the matchup having won two straight and three of its past five games. Karl-Anthony Towns has been the standout performer for Minnesota, averaging 35.1 points, 14.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game since the All-Star break. Towns is shooting 59.3 percent from the field and 49 percent on 3-pointers during that stretch.
Denver won the first two matchups in the season series, with both games being decided by two points or less. The two teams have split the last six games in the series.
Here are some keys to the game:
Playing “Nuggets basketball”: After Denver returned from last week’s road trip, head coach Michael Malone stressed the importance of getting back to playing Nuggets basketball, which starts with strong ball movement on offense. "When we win, we play a certain brand of basketball. With 17 games to go, and 11 of those 17 against teams that are .500 or better, we can't afford to deviate from that,” Malone said after practice on Monday. Denver is 30-11 this season when they record at least 27 assists in a game and 51-13 since Malone took over as head coach when they record at least 30 assists in a game.
Relying on strong defense: Despite Denver’s struggles on offense since the All-Star break, the team’s defense has been a stabilizing presence. Having a healthy starting lineup for the first time in months has done wonders for Denver’s defense. Gary Harris and Paul Millsap have become a formidable duo on the defensive end, which will be key for the Nuggets as they continue to iron out some kinks on the offensive end.
Going back to Nikola Jokić: Denver’s All-Star big man has attempted just 15 shots over the past two games combined. “We've got to get him (Jokić) the ball more. Something good happens when he touches it. He's going to score, he's going to find the open man, he's going to draw a foul or a double team, and good things will happen.”
Tonight’s game will be a late tip at 8:30 p.m. MT and will air on TNT. Fans can listen on Altitude Radio, 92.5 FM.