The Denver Nuggets finished the last 17 games of the regular season with a 7-10 record, and that shoddy stretch run may negatively affect the MVP run of Nikola Jokic. The organization knew the No. 1 seed was locked up, so they took the foot off the gas. The losing record was a cause for concern for some pundits, but the Nuggets have shut them up and taken a commanding 3-0 lead over the eighth-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round. Now it’s time for some bold Nuggets predictions for Game 4 against the Timberwolves as they go for a sweep.
Jokic continues to lead the charge by tallying 27-9-9 in Game 2 and then completing a spectacular triple-double in Game 3 with numbers of 20-11-12. Jamal Murray has found rhythm and confidence, closer to his performance in the bubble. The second unit of Denver was a major cause for concern at a particular juncture of the regular season. Still, head coach Michael Malone has found the perfect combination for his playoff rotation.
As the Nuggets are on the brink of sweeping the Timberwolves, there are numerous predictions for them to finish it off on Sunday night.
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3. Michael Porter Jr. scores over 35 points
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray have had their standout games in the series, so Game 4 will be the night Michael Porter Jr. will stand out and become the No. 1 option for Denver. The absence of All-Defensive-caliber player Jaden McDaniels has opened up a gaping hole in the Timberwolves’ defensive schemes.
Porter’s offensive bag is fantastic, making him a perfect complement to Jokic and Murray. He has not had a 30-point game in this series, but Game 4 will be the first and last. Minnesota will continue scrambling with the two-big lineups, and Porter will make them pay.
2. Aaron Gordon will have his best game of the series
Since the Timberwolves continue to utilize Rudy Gobert and Karl Anthony-Towns for the majority of the game, the Nuggets have exposed that lineup defensively. Aaron Gordon is way more athletic and agile than Towns and Gobert, so it is a matchup nightmare for head coach Chris Finch as he tries to figure out how to maximize his two bigs.
Since that is the case, Nikola Jokic will search for Gordon in Game 4 and unlock him through timely lobs and wide-open triples. The Timberwolves’ defense will likely adjust to Jokic and Murray’s strengths, so Denver must call other plays for them to continue being unguardable. On the defensive end, Gordon will also be excellent and continue limiting KAT to a low-scoring output.
1. Nuggets blow out Timberwolves to complete sweep
Games 2 and 3 did not come down to the final possession, but Minnesota was in striking distance for most of the game. Their fourth-quarter execution could have been better, as their offensive sets were stagnant and relied heavily on the talent of Anthony Edwards. In Game 4, that will not be the case because the Nuggets will wrap up the series in humiliating fashion with a blowout of 20-plus points.
The Timberwolves look destined for an early vacation. The trio of Jokic, Murray, and Porter is running like a well-oiled machine again, and Denver has elite team chemistry compared to Minnesota. The core of this squad has been together for many years, and they will move on to likely face the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Semifinals.
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