The Minnesota Timberwolves are down 0-2 to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs after Wednesday’s Game 2 loss. The Nuggets won 122-113 behind 40 points from star Jamal Murray and 27 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists from potential NBA MVP Nikola Jokic. On the Timberwolves side, they were led by Anthony Edwards, who recovered mightily from a mediocre Game 1; Edwards had 41 points on 60.9% shooting from the field and 60.0% shooting from the 3-point line. Unfortunately for Edwards, he was the only T-Wolves player who posted anything above an average stat line on their way to an 0-2 deficit. However, out of everyone to blame, there are two Timberwolves players that deserve the most fault.
There is one starter and one bench guy that needed to do more in Wednesday’s loss to the Nuggets. The Timberwolves found any success this season when these two guys were at the top of their game, so it is no surprise that Game 2 resulted in how it did. With an effort like Edwards’, the T-wolves would usually have expected a win. However, the output from these two was enough to keep Minnesota out of the win column. They now return to Minneapolis hoping to make a series out of their first round matchup, right now at risk of being swept out of the 2023 NBA Playoffs. These two guys will need to play better if this is going to be a more competitive affair from here on out. So, who are these two players?
Here are two Timberwolves that deserve the most blame for the Game 2 loss against the Denver Nuggets.
*Watch NBA games LIVE with fuboTV (click for free trial)*
*Stats via ESPN
The first one is an absolute no-brainer. Karl-Anthony Towns is the best player on the Minnesota Timberwolves, and has been for years. In Game 2, he was arguably the worst player on the floor for the T-Wolves, and deserves much of the blame for the loss. Towns finished the game with 10 points and 12 rebounds, far from an inspiring stat sheet. He also added 5 turnovers, as well as shooting an extremely poor 3/12 from the field. 25% shooting from the Timberwolves best player is a recipe for disaster, and that was the case in Game 2.
This is the second straight poor performance from Towns to start the 2023 NBA Playoffs, and he needs to flip the switch quickly before he looks up and the T-Wolves have been swept. He posted 11 points in Game 1 on 5/15 shooting, now an overall 8/27 from the field in the series. After averaging 20.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists on 49.5% shooting in 29 games over the regular season, Towns looks like a completely different, and much worse player against the Nuggets. In order to find any type of success against the No.1 overall seed in the West, Towns needs to be playing at the top of his game. If he can’t find his groove over the next two games, expect a short playoff stint for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Jaylen Nowell was a key piece of the rotation this year for the Timberwolves, averaging 10.8 points over 65 games. He is a very capable defender and provided an energetic spark off the bench all season long. That was the exact opposite of the case in Game 2, as he scored a meager 2 points on 1/5 shooting over just 16 minutes of play. He finished with a +/- of -4, and somehow wasn’t able to contribute anything else to the stat sheet. Simply put, he was really just another body out there in Game 2 for the Timberwolves.
When guys like Karl-Anthony Towns aren’t holding up their end of the bargain for the Timberwolves, they won’t be very likely to win games against such caliber teams like the Denver Nuggets. Nevertheless, in such cases the role players need to step up in a collective effort, and Nowell is an imperative piece of the T-Wolves bench. He was an absolute non-factor against the Nuggets, something Minnesota couldn’t afford with Towns playing so poorly. As the Timberwolves head into game 3, they are going to expect much more production from Nowell. Luckily for him, that really won’t be much at all given his output in Game 2.
With Game 3 on the horizon, the Minnesota Timberwolves will need to play much better basketball if they want to win a game this series. The Denver Nuggets are clearly a better team, but look like they belong in a different league through two games in the series. If Karl-Anthony Towns and Jaylen Nowell can play up to their level in Game 3, the Timberwolves might have a chance of stealing a game from the Denver Nuggets.
The post 2 Timberwolves most to blame for tough Game 2 loss to Nuggets appeared first on ClutchPoints.