Invincibility in the NBA has usually been the Denver Nuggets on their home floor. The 33-8 record in the 2023-2024 regular season speaks for itself, but the crowd and the high altitude certainly add to the allure of the Nuggets’ strength at home.

None of that seemed to matter to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves were one of the five teams that handed Denver one of their eight losses at home, with a 111-98 victory on March 29 being the largest margin of victory in the four-game series that both teams split in the regular season.

Karl-Anthony Towns and Jamal Murray missed that game for their respective teams, but for Minnesota, it taught them how to win with the personnel they had at that point in time with playoff implications on the line. Because the next time the Nuggets lost at home was to these Wolves in Game 1 of the 2024 Western Conference Semifinals.

For the first time this postseason, Denver felt vulnerable and Minnesota did a good job of making that happen. Nikola Jokic still had his usual statline of 32 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists, but he had to work for everything. Michael Porter Jr. did his best to support Jokic, while Murray rediscovered his touch in the second half. However, the Wolves had a response to whatever Nuggets threw at them.


Game 2 felt much the same, but this time the outcome was decided early on and it was Minnesota’s frontcourt that took the lead. Towns and Naz Reid combined for 41 points, 17 rebounds, and six blocks, imposing their will on the Nuggets, who were held to below 100 points for the second straight game.

Minnesota’s roster is built ala the 2020 Los Angeles Lakers, which was stacked with big men to stop Jokic. But the Wolves took it up a notch by stopping Jokic with defense AND offense. Gobert is a menace on defense, but both Towns and Reid have made Jokic defend regardless of who is on the floor. Anthony Davis was feasting on Jokic but now Jokic has to do it again, this time against at least two players who could give him more fits.

Active may be the word to describe what Minnesota has been to Denver through two games. The pesky defense where tips have often led to steals and the fact that the Wolves’ big men can extend their offense to beyond the 3-point line has driven the Nuggets to near insanity, especially since they have to exert a ton of effort on both ends of the floor against a handful of Minnesota’s personnel. The 26.0 assists they’ve been averaging is further proof that the avalanche on offense has been devastating to say the least. Strength is in numbers after all.

At the front of all of the Wolves’ efforts, though, is Anthony Edwards.

Edwards was unstoppable in Game 1 and beyond the numbers (game-high 43 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and two blocks), it was how he had no fear when attacking Denver. The Nuggets tried to put more coverage on him in Game 2, but like Jokic, he too can dish it out and create for others (but of course not at the level of the 2023 NBA Finals MVP) as referenced by his seven assists.

Denver will continue to look for answers, one of which could be attacking Minnesota’s frontcourt to take them out of the equation. They tried that with Towns, Gobert, and Kyle Anderson, who had 13 fouls among themselves. The Wolves’ bench has more depth and we saw a glimpse of that in Game 1 and with Reid coming away with no fouls, Minnesota may have found the formula to send the Nuggets home.

Then again, Denver may have to go back to the drawing board.

Gobert sat out Game 2 due to the birth of his first child and it seemed the Nuggets went to Aaron Gordon early to get more firepower from their frontcourt, but Towns and Reid stepped up with strong offensive showings that had Murray throwing heat packs to the court.

While the Minnesota Timberwolves pulled away from the Denver Nuggets in the first two games of the series, it’s safe to say that this slugfest is far from over. What can be said, though, is that the Wolves have them where they want them to be. And with the series heading to Minnesota, the Wolves can go for the kill.