3 bold Nuggets predictions for 2023 NBA Playoffs vs. Timberwolves

The Denver Nuggets’ 2023 NBA Playoff run starts with a first-round series against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ahead of the Nuggets-Timberwolves series, our Nuggets playoff predictions will forecast an easy trip to the second round for Denver.

The Nuggets are heavy favorites to beat the Timberwolves in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs. Denver cruised to the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Minnesota barely made the playoffs by winning its second game of the NBA Play-In Tournament. The Nuggets’ 11-game edge on the Timberwolves atop the standings would’ve been much greater if Denver didn’t take its foot off the gas pedal down the stretch of the regular season. Back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic will be a top-three finisher for the 2023 award, at worst.

The Nuggets went 7-10 in their last 17 games. The Timberwolves went 6-3 in their final nine regular-season games. Does that mean the Nuggets-Timberwolves series could feature an upset? Let’s examine that question and more in our Nuggets playoff predictions.

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3. Denver Nuggets Guard Jamal Murray will outscore Anthony Edwards

Anthony Edwards is the Timberwolves’ leading scorer with 24.6 points per game. Jamal Murray is second on the Nuggets with 20.0 points per game. There are reasons to believe that Murray will close the scoring gap between himself and Edwards when they meet in the 2023 NBA Playoffs.

Edwards wasn’t the same offensive player in Minnesota’s Play-In Tournament games. The former No. 1 overall draft pick was downright awful against the Los Angeles Lakers, scoring nine points on 3-of-17 shooting. Edwards missed all nine of his 3-point attempts. Edwards was better in the Timberwolves’ 120-95 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he still needed 19 field-goal attempts to score 19 points. According to ESPN’s Jalen Rose, Edwards might be fighting through some nagging injuries.

A seemingly healthy Edwards didn’t put up big scoring against the Nuggets in the regular season. In three of the four meetings, Edwards failed to score more than 20 points. Murray faced the Timberwolves twice. The Nuggets’ point guard scored 28 points in a 122-118 victory over Minnesota on Jan. 18.

Murray is set to play in the postseason for the first time since the bubble, where he emerged as a star. Murray averaged 26.5 points per game in the 2020 playoffs. In Denver’s seven-game series with the Utah Jazz in the first round, Murray had a pair of 50-point games in addition to a 42-point outburst. If Bubble Murray makes an appearance, Minnesota is in deep trouble.

2. Denver Nuggets will score more than 120 points per game

The Nuggets averaged 115.8 points per game in the regular season. It’s also the exact number of points that the Timberwolves surrendered per contest. The 2023 NBA Playoffs, however, could be a different story.

For years, Rudy Gobert almost single-handedly gave the Jazz one of the NBA’s best defenses in the regular season. Utah never made a run to the Western Conference Finals in part because Gobert wasn’t nearly as effective in the postseason. During his first regular season in Minnesota, Gobert helped the Timberwolves post a top-10 defensive rating.  The three-time Defensive Player of the Year isn’t going to stop Jokic or the Nuggets’ No. 5 ranked offense now that we’ve reached the playoffs.

With Jokic on the floor, the Nuggets scored 125.6 points per 100 possessions. By comparison, the Sacramento Kings had the best offensive rating in NBA history by scoring 118.6 points per 100 possessions in the regular season. Jokic’s minutes per game will increase in the playoffs, making Denver’s offense that much more potent.

1. Denver Nuggets will sweep Minnesota Timberwolves

The NBA odds at the start of the Nuggets-Timberwolves series suggest that Denver is unlikely to pull off a sweep. Denver has +210 odds at FanDuel Sportsbook to eliminate Minnesota in five games. The Nuggets have +410 odds to beat the Timberwolves in a six-game series. A Nuggets’ sweep is given +490 odds.

Why will the Nuggets sweep the Timberwolves? For starters, Denver isn’t going to lose at home. The Nuggets are 34-7 at Ball Arena. It’s going to be an incredibly difficult environment for any opposing team in the playoffs. Jokic is clearly the best player in the series. If Murray outscores Edwards and becomes the second-best player on the floor, Minnesota will be hard-pressed to even steal one game in the series.

Jokic was outstanding in the 2022 playoffs. The superstar averaged 31.0 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game while shooting 57.5% from the field. Denver didn’t make it out of the first round because Jokic had little help against the eventual NBA champions.

Jokic has much more help in 2023. The Timberwolves are not a championship-caliber team. Denver has home-court advantage. All of that should add up to an easy first-round victory for the Nuggets over the Timberwolves.

The post 3 bold Nuggets predictions for 2023 NBA Playoffs vs. Timberwolves appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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