The 2023 NBA playoffs are officially up and running for nearly a week. With some teams opening 2-0 leads, the next game could put them on the verge of a sweep. With the Denver Nuggets set to travel to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, it means it is time for some Nuggets Game 3 bold predictions.
Denver finished with a 53-29 record in the regular season, securing the top seed in the Western Conference for the first time in franchise history. This represented a five-win improvement compared to last year.
On the other side of the matchup, Minnesota went 42-40 and finished at No. 8. After losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in overtime in their first play-in game, the Wolves officially clinched a playoff spot by defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder, 120-95.
In Game 1 on Sunday, the Nuggets dominated at home with a 109-80 victory. Denver also won Game 2 on Wednesday, 122-113. However, the team once trailed as the Timberwolves had a 40-point third quarter, including a 14-0 run to make things closer.
Now at the Target Center, the change of scenery could make a big difference in the next few games. With that being said, here are some bold predictions for the Denver Nuggets for their Game 3 of the first round versus the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.
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3. Denver holds Anthony Edwards to at most 25 points
Even though the Timberwolves are down 2-0, there are still some bright spots on the team. Most notably, Anthony Edwards has been a spark on offense, including being crucial in Minnesota’s 14-point run in the second half of Game 2.
For the series, Edwards is averaging 29.5 points, 4.5 assists and 2.0 rebounds plus 2.0 steals and 2.0 blocks. He is shooting 52.6% from the field, 50% from beyond the arc and 85.7% from the free-throw line.
In Game 2, Edwards had one of his best individual performances since entering the league. He had a game-high 41 points on 14-for-23 shooting while making six 3-pointers. He also had four assists, three blocks and two steals.
Edwards has been playing an even bigger role since Karl-Anthony Towns is struggling in the series. The big man is putting up only 10.5 points on 29.6% shooting from the field and 25% from the 3-point line.
If there is something that the Nuggets must do to win on the road, it is contain Edwards. Should he have another 40-point performance, it might be too much for Denver to overcome this time. The bold prediction is that the Nuggets will hold him to at most 25 points. Although it is still about his regular-season average, it is considerably lower than what he did in Game 2.
2. Nikola Jokic records his first triple-double of the series
As for the Nuggets, there is no secret that their success will depend on how well Nikola Jokic is playing. The Joker has been a crucial part of the team’s recent success, winning back-to-back MVP trophies and being a finalist once again this year.
In the regular season, Jokic nearly averaged a triple-double with 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists per game. Notably, he shot 63.2% from the field, 38.3% from the 3-point line and 82.2% on his free-throw attempts. He also led the league with 29 triple-doubles.
So far in the playoffs, the Serbian is putting up 20 points, 11.5 boards and 7.5 assists on 52%/33%/58% shooting splits.
Despite his all-around numbers, Jokic has yet to record a triple-double in the 2023 NBA playoffs. He came close with 27 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists in Game 2.
The bold prediction is that Jokic will finally get a triple-double in Game 3. If he succeeds, the Nuggets will be in a solid position to win the contest and take a big step toward advancing to the Western Conference Semifinals.
1. Timberwolves have their moments, but the Nuggets still win
Despite having a 22-19 record at home in the regular season, the Timberwolves had some big wins at Target Center. That includes defeating teams such as the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and even the Nuggets.
However, even with home-court advantage in Game 3, Minnesota is still considered the underdog. Denver is once again the favorite to win the contest but this time with a spread of only -2.5, according to FanDuel. This means that, even with the Nuggets playing very well, the Timberwolves should not go down without a fight.
All things considered, especially if Jokic goes off and the defensive unit limits Edwards’ impact, it will be difficult to stop the Nuggets. The bold prediction is that, like in Game 2, the Timberwolves will have their moments of extended runs and leads. Still, fans should expect the Nuggets to win and open a 3-0 lead. In that case, things will become much more complicated for Minnesota in Game 4 on a win-or-go-home situation.
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