The defending champion Denver Nuggets are one win away from a backdoor sweep and a third Western Conference Finals trip in five seasons. Can the Minnesota Timberwolves wake up?

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AWAY: Denver Nuggets (3-2)

Projected Starting Five:

  • Jamal Murray
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • Michael Porter Jr.
  • Aaron Gordon
  • Nikola Jokic

With a 112-97 win in Game 5 for a 3-2 series lead, we are being constantly reminded why the Nuggets are the reigning champions. They shrugged off two tough defeats at home, trusted their system and abilities, and are now in the driver seat, fast approaching the West finals.

The cool thing is the comeback came from all sorts of angles. Game 3 was a collective effort with Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr. all scoring 20-plus points and combining to shoot 55.1% from the field; Game 4 was mainly an Aaron Gordon game courtesy of 27 points on 11-of-12 shooting, which also includes playing solid defense; while Game 5 featured classic Jokic as he notched 40 points, seven rebounds, 13 assists, two steals, and one block without a single turnover. That’s MVP type of ish right there.

An insurmountable momentum is on the Nuggets’ side, with the offense and defense clicking simultaneously. If they don’t take their foot off the gas, they should be able to close this one out Friday.


HOME: Minnesota Timberwolves (2-3)

Projected Starting Five:

  • Mike Conley (questionable)
  • Anthony Edwards
  • Jaden McDaniels
  • Karl-Anthony Towns
  • Rudy Gobert

What happened to the Timberwolves’ top-ranked defense? That’s the question everyone’s asking. It went from looking as intense as any defense we’ve seen, to being slow and unsure of themselves. They only allowed 99 and 80 points in the first two games, and it went up to 117, 115, and 112 over the last three.

As a complete opposite of what’s happening with Denver, Minnesota is spiraling downwards, and it’s coming from every angle too. Game 3 was a collective lack of effort as no one even reached 20 points and Karl-Anthony Towns was only 4-of-7 for 14 points; Game 4 had effort but KAT was off as he only shot 5-of-18, spoiling Anthony Edwards’s 44 points; and in Game 5, it was Edwards’s turn to lay an egg, shooting a rough 5-of-15 – it didn’t help that floor general Mike Conley was out with an injury. Many are pointing the blame at Rudy Gobert and his “poor” defense on Jokic, but it’s a good ‘ol case of the offensive player simply being great. Gobert was good for the most part.

We should see an aggressive Edwards and Towns for Game 6, but the latter’s inconsistency is concerning. Either way, though, the bench and team defense will have to step up a ton.


Spread: Nuggets (+2.5)

Over/Under: Over (203.5)