An Aaron Gordon Out of Body Experience Wasn’t on Anyone’s Game 4 Bingo Card

NBA: Playoffs-Denver Nuggets at Minnesota Timberwolves
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves came into a series against the defending champions knowing they had to match up with both Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. The three-time NBA MVP was going to be a problem, and Murray would represent one as well (even though he should have been suspended for game 3).

An Aaron Gordon out of body experience, however, wasn’t on my game 4 bingo card. That’s what we got, though. How good was the the former No. 4 overall pick Sunday night? Well, he led the Nuggets in minutes (41), rebounds (7-T) and blocks (2-T). He also went 11-for-12 (92%) from the field and 3-for-3 from deep, good for 27 points (2nd on DEN). Gordon’s +9 while on the court was the most of any Nuggets player in the starting lineup.

Aaron Gordon, who played his college ball at the University of Arizona, has twice received votes for Most Improved Player, but beyond that, he’s been something of a disappointment, since the Magic picked him in the top-5 of the 2014 NBA draft.

But under Mike Malone in Denver, Gordon is flourishing once again… but as a role player, who can hit some open shots and provide rebounding help for Nikola Jokic down low, not to take over games like he did last night.

Related: Anthony Edwards Needs Some Teammates

In the regular season, Aaron Gordon averaged just shy of 14 points per game and nothing about his percentages suggested a takeover in Minnesota during the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs was on the horizon.

Anthony Edwards mentions Aaron Gordon at press conference

The 28-year-old San Jose native shot a paltry 29% from deep this season, but he’s been a different guy this entire series, where he’s now averaging 17.3 points on 72% shooting (67% 3PT). The numbers are crazy, we know. Anthony Edwards can’t believe it either.

Realistically a playoff series is about staying the course, and that’s absolutely what the Timberwolves, Chris Finch, and Micah Nori must do. If Aaron Gordon is going to continue pouring in points at a pace he has never shown during a regular season, well then that’s an unfortunate way to get beat.

Related: Anthony Edwards Needs Some Teammates

Jokic is always going to get his (35 points in game 4), and Jamal Murray is the other guy you gameplan for defensively. Not Aaron Gordon. The Timberwolves need their Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to show up bigger than he did in Games 3 and 4 (a quick darkness retreat today maybe?) and Karl Anthony Towns has to be substantially better as well.

But what Minnesota shouldn’t do is fall for the Aaron Gordon mirage. Let him shoot. The law of averages will eventually win out. That’s why we play seven game series in the NBA. Chris Finch and his defensive assistants should keep their attention on that side of the floor focused elsewhere. We know what AG is. Let him fall back to earth.

Remember that time Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine battled at the dunk contest?

As a 6’8” forward, the highlight of Aaron Gordon’s career has always, and will continue to be, his dunk contest exploits alongside Zach LaVine back in 2016. Back then Gordon was playing for the Orlando Magic and LaVine was blowing out birthday candles for the Minnesota Timberwolves. During this series for the Nuggets, it has been Gordon blowing out Minnesota’s playoff chances.

Throw away what happened at home, go back to what worked on the road, and the Timberwolves can emerge victorious in what has now changed to a best of three series with the first home team to win at an advantage.

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