Playoff basketball has returned once again to the Mile High City as the eight-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves take on the top-seeded Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference. Let’s check out our NBA odds series, where our Timberwolves-Nuggets prediction and pick will be revealed.
After dropping a heartbreaker in overtime to the LA Lakers in the play-in tournament opener, the Timberwolves returned home with their season on the line and blew out the Oklahoma City Thunder by a score of 120-95 to punch their ticket to the playoffs. Despite the T-Wolves being shorthanded with some injuries to role players, Minnesota’s “Twin Towers” of Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns will be a treat for basketball fans to watch.
It all comes down to this for the Nuggets. After not being 100% healthy for their last pair of playoff appearances, Denver is at full-strength in the postseason for the first time since the 2020 bubble, when Michael Malone’s team came back from multiple 3-1 deficits and made an appearance in the Western Conference Finals. Simply put, it’s championship or bust for this Nuggets squad over the course of these next couple months.
Here are the Timberwolves-Nuggets NBA odds, courtesy of FanDuel
NBA Odds: Timberwolves-Nuggets Odds
Minnesota Timberwolves: +7.5 (-110)
Denver Nuggets: -7.5 (-110)
Over: 224.5 (-110)
Under: 224.5 (-110)
How To Watch Timberwolves vs. Nuggets
Stream: TNT App
Time: 10:30 ET/7:30 PT
*Watch NBA games LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*
Why The Timberwolves Could Cover The Spread
For starters, the Timberwolves split the season series with the Nuggets at two games apiece, but were also fortunate to square off with Denver when their starting lineup was mostly absent. However, Minnesota played all four of those games without Towns, arguably the team’s top player. With the return of Towns to the lineup, the Wolves have been able to stretch the floor with their lethal shooting big and also attack teams with an abundance of height down low.
If Minnesota is going to cause any glaring issues for Denver in this opening game of the series, then dominating the offensive and defensive glass with a tremendous rebounding effort will need to be in store.
Above all else, there are very few players who have gone head-to-head with Nikola Jokic over the years more than Gobert. Believe it or not, the two big men have squared off a whopping 28 times, including seven occasions during the playoffs. While it is nearly impossible to slow down Jokic, the hope is Gobert, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, can at least make life difficult on the Serbian superstar.
If all else fails to contain Jokic, then shooting lights out from deep could be the ultimate equalizer. Against the Thunder, it was the Timberwolves who shot 40% from downtown and will need to bring some of that stellar shooting to the Mile High City in order to cover the spread.
Why The Nuggets Could Cover The Spread
Boasting the second-best home record in the NBA, the last time the Nuggets tipped off with the Timberwolves resulted in Denver absolutely demolishing Minnesota by a score of 146-112 back on February 7th. In that home rout, it was one of the rare times the Nuggets had their full arsenal available for play against the T-Wolves this season, and it certainly was an encouraging sign for Denver.
Not only was this a brief glimpse of what the Nuggets can look like at full-strength, but there is also no question they can beat anyone in the league at their best. In order to take an early advantage in this series by capturing a spread-covering victory over their division rivals, not many players on Denver’s roster will be more vital than Michael Porter Jr.
Of course, Jokic and Jamal Murray will make some big plays when it counts, but MPJ’s dynamic shooting prowess and high-point release makes him able to hit any shot from anywhere on the floor. In fact, Porter Jr. is one of the most efficient jump-shooters in basketball, and the Timberwolves may lack the healthy bodies to be able to guard MPJ on a consistent basis.
Even if this game ends up being close until the final horn, one intriguing statistic that falls in the Nuggets favor is their ability to play clutch defense down the stretch. Denver has the third-best clutch defense in the league, a factor that could come into play if this contest ends up being close down the stretch.
Final Timberwolves-Nuggets Prediction & Pick
While the value is there to take the Timberwolves in an upset on the road, the likelihood of Minnesota coming into high altitude on short rest and beating a Nuggets squad that has had the entire week off is unlikely to say the least.
Final Timberwolves-Nuggets Prediction & Pick: Nuggets -7.5 (-110)
The post NBA Odds: Timberwolves vs. Nuggets Game 1 prediction, pick, how to watch – 4/16/2023 appeared first on ClutchPoints.