Game 6 between the Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Timberwolves was supposed to be a cake walk for the reigning champions.

After all, the Nuggets had just won three consecutive contests, including two road wins, against the Timberwolves. Denver seemed to have turned on their championship gear in these games, winning by an average of 17 points, as they turned what was an 0-2 hole into a 3-2 lead.

Instead, Minnesota did the improbable and punched back as they took a 45-point win, 115-70, in Game 6 to set a winner-take-all Game 7.

The Timberwolves used a 27-2 run over a span of less than seven minutes in the opening quarter to blow open the game as their lead would not fall below 10 points for the remainder of the evening. They led the Nuggets by over 20 points for most of the second half and their advantage even reached a high of 50 by the latter portion of the fourth quarter.


On a night when Minnesota’s role players stepped up, particularly Jaden McDaniels who scored nine consecutive points for them at one point in the game, their Denver counterparts faltered.

Nikola Jokic was hounded relentlessly by double teams every time he touched the ball and was in dire need of help from his teammates, but none of them were up to the task in Game 6. Jokic finished with a paltry line by his standards–22 points on nine-of-19 shooting, nine rebounds, two assists, and three turnovers–and only two other Nuggets managed to score at least 10.

Aaron Gordon was their second leading scorer with 12 points on seven shots while Jamal Murray managed to score 10, but only hit four-of-18 field goals. Denver’s bench was a non-factor too as they managed only nine points, seven of which came when the outcome of the game was decidedly out of reach, versus the 36 scored by the Timberwolves’ reserves.

The Nuggets will need Murray, at the very least, to support Jokic and have a decent showing in Game 7 if they are to keep their back-to-back championship hopes alive. Jokic clearly cannot do it alone, especially with Minnesota employing an aggressive double-teaming strategy that is daring the rest of Denver’s players to be the one to beat them instead.

After losing just four contests over the entirety of last year’s postseason, the Nuggets are now in danger of losing four in this series alone which would put an end to their championship reign. These Timberwolves seem to have their number, yet it is too soon to count out Jokic and this Denver team.

As long as the three-time NBA Most Valuable Player Jokic is on the floor, these Nuggets have a chance. Game 7 should be a match for the ages that could go down as an all-time classic. A win would be a legacy-defining one for either side and the team that comes out victorious is likely to be favored to win it all as well.

There are a lot of uncertainties heading into this winner-take-all Game 7, albeit the one thing that is as close to certain as it is humanly possible is that Jokic, whose case to be mentioned among the all-time greats grows by the day, is not going to go down without a fight. The most important question to be answered though is whether the rest of Denver’s team can give him the help that he needs.