4 Minnesota Timberwolves’ Keys to Victory in Game 3 Against the Denver Nuggets

Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves have been nothing short of dominant against the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets.

They are up 2-0 after taking care of business in Denver and now go back home for Game 3 on Friday with a chance to put a stranglehold on the series. How did we get here? More importantly, how do the Timberwolves sustain their high level of play?

Key #1: Make Nikola Jokic a scorer, not a facilitator

Photo: Bart Young – NBAE via Getty Images

This might sound strange but the biggest key to beating the Nuggets is limiting how impactful Nikola Jokic can be offensively. He averaged 26 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists during the regular season. What the Timberwolves did in the first two games is what the Los Angeles Lakers could not do. That is to say, force Nikola Jokic to be the main scorer.

If he gets his fellow teammates, Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Michael Porter Jr. involved, that’s when opposing teams are in trouble. If Jokic puts up 40-plus points and other role players do not get involved, tip your cap and move along.

Related: LeBron James Raves About What Makes the Minnesota Timberwolves So Good

Key #2:Minnesota Timberwolves must play physical defense (again)

NBA: Playoffs-Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The ‘Wolves have been the No. 1 defense in the NBA all season, led by four time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. To the league’s credit, they have eased up on how games are officiated during the playoffs and ar allowing players to be more physical.

In Game 1, Minnesota forced 12 turnovers and only allowed 42 points in the paint in a 106-99 win. Nikola Jokic did have 32 points and nine assists, but he also had seven turnovers. Jamal Murray was held to 17 points on 6-of-14 from the field.

Game 2 was even better.

It was a runaway victory for Minnesota, 106-80. The Nuggets as a team were held to 35% shooting from the field (29-of-83) and just 30% from three-point range (9-of-30). The biggest factor: 19 turnovers for Denver. Jokic and Murray were non existent as they combined for 24 total points.

On top of that, the Timberwolves had 11 blocks and 12 steals. If they play that type of defense in Game 3, they have the series on lockdown. Rudy Gobert was out for Game 2 because of the birth of his first child. Imagine the impact he will have in Friday evening.

Related: Where Did Minnesota Timberwolves Star Anthony Edwards Finish in the NBA MVP Voting?

Key #3:Anthony Edwards needs to keep his foot on the gas

Anthony Edwards: Playoffs-Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets
Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

As Anthony Edwards goes, the Wolves follow. He is without a doubt the next face of the NBA and has an old school aggressive style of play of getting to the basket and midrange like two other great shooting guards: Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. You might have heard of them a time or two. Edwards put on a show in Game 1, scoring 43 points and shooting 17-of-29 from the field. He had 22 points in the fourth quarter alone. The pure definition of domination.

Game 2 was not too shabby either: 27 points, seven assists, 11-of-17 from the field. The game was over by halftime as Minnesota really took control at that point. If Edwards continues getting to his spots and scores at will, the Nuggets are in big trouble.

Key #4: The Rebounding Minnesota Timberwolves

Rudy Gobert Minnesota Timberwolves
Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The last key is the most simple: rebound the basketball! The Timberwolves out-rebounded the Nuggets 42-34 in Game 2. Although they were out-rebounded in Game 2, 50-42, that game was well in hand in favor of Minnesota.

With Rudy Gobert expected back Friday evening, we expect the Wolves to be dominant on the boards and use their size to their advantage. With the exception of point guard Mike Conley, every starter on the team is at least 6-foor-5. This gives opponents cause to pause and try to match who’s on the floor. Let’s see what happens in Game 3.

The series now shifts to Minnesota and the Target Center. Game 3 is on Friday on ESPN at 8:30 PM ET.

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