Denver Nuggets (17-24 SU, 20-21 ATS, 30-10-1 O/U) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (15-28 SU, 21-22 ATS, 20-23 O/U)
NBA: Sunday, January 22, 2017, Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 7 pm ET
Line: Minnesota -4.5; Over/Under: 221
It’s a battle of Northwest Division foes in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The Denver Nuggets, battling for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, faces the basement dwelling Minnesota Timberwolves Sunday night. Denver was in action Saturday night as they hosted the Clippers. Minnesota won for the fourth time in six games by edging the Clippers 104-101 on the road Thursday night. Denver holds a 72-44 edge in the all-time regular season series between the division rivals. The Nuggets have won five straight in the series, including a 102-99 win in the last matchup here on November 3, 2016.
Denver Nuggets Hope for Road Win in Second Game of Back to Back
Denver was at home against the banged up Clippers looking to get back in the win column Saturday night. The Nuggets entered that contest holding on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings, one game ahead of ninth place Portland. Denver was 19 games behind Golden State for the top spot in the Western Conference and 9.5 games behind the Jazz in the Northwest Division. The Nuggets entered Saturday 8-13 on the road, 4-6 against Northwest Division rivals and 10-15 against the Western Conference this season.
The Nuggets are 4th in the league in scoring offense with an average of 109.6 points per game. Denver is currently 2nd in the league in rebounding with 46.8 rebounds per contest. The Nuggets are 7th in the league by dishing out 24 assists per game. Denver is 28th in scoring defense as they allow 111.6 points per contest. Danilo Gallinari leads the team with 16.9 points plus five boards a night. Wilson Chandler (16.1 points, 6.9 rebounds) and Emmanuel Mudiay (12.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists) are solid wing options on the offensive end. Will Barton (13.9 points, 4.5 boards) also scores in double figures but missed 12 games with an ankle injury. Kenneth Faried, Jameer Nelson, Jusuf Nurkic, Nikola Jokic (14.8 points, 8.3 boards, 3.8 assists), Gary Harris (12.3 points) and Jamal Murray are key pieces in the rotation for Denver. The Nuggets are currently 10th in the league in field goal percentage by shooting 45.9 percent from the field. Denver is 10th in the league by sinking 9.8 threes per game and is 12th in the league in three point shooting by sinking 36.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Minnesota Timberwolves Try for Fifth Win in Seven Games
Minnesota snapped their two game slide by knocking off the Clippers on the road to close a three game trip 1-2. The Timberwolves trailed by seven at the half but rallied as they outscored the Clippers 60-50 in the second half to get the win. Minnesota shot 47.6 percent from the field and went 5 of 16 from three point range in the contest. The Timberwolves won the game from the free throw line in the contest as they sank 19 of 25 attempts. The Clippers, meanwhile, sank only 13 of 24 of their attempts at the charity stripe. Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 37 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in the win.
The Timberwolves come into this game 19th in scoring with 103.1 points a game. Minnesota is just 20th in rebounding with 43 boards a night and 11th in assists by dishing out 22.8 dimes per contest. The Timberwolves are 13th in scoring defense as they allow 104.3 points per game. Andrew Wiggins is second the team with 21.7 points per game while Zach LaVine is contributing nicely with a 19.8 point per game mark. Karl-Anthony Towns puts up a team leading 22.3 points plus 12 boards while Gorgui Dieng (10.9 points, 7.5 rebounds) is a solid low post presence. Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones are running the point remarkably well as rookies and split time with Ricky Rubio. Shabazz Muhammad, Brandon Rush, Jordan Hill and Cole Aldrich are reserves that Minnesota looks to for valuable minutes. The Timberwolves are 11th in the league in field goal percentage as the team shoots 45.8 percent from the floor. Minnesota is 28th in threes with 7.9 per game and is 21st in the league in three point shooting as they’ve hit 34.9 percent of their attempts from downtown.
- Nuggets are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Sunday games
- Timberwolves are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a losing straight up record
- Timberwolves are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games playing on 2 days rest
Denver has the disadvantage of playing Saturday night and then having to fly to Minneapolis for their second game in less than 24 hours. With a rotation as deep as the Nuggets have though, that may not have as much of an effect as it would on other teams. Minnesota has won four of six and beat that same Clippers team on the road. The Timberwolves are still a work in progress though as Thibodeau hasn’t been able to mold the team the way he’d like at this point in time. Take the points and the Nuggets as their depth wills them to a victory here.
Pick: Denver Nuggets +4.5
Both these teams have an innate ability to light up the scoreboard on a nightly basis. We saw Denver put up at least 125 points in three straight wins before they were taken down by San Antonio. Playing the second game of a back to back may temper them but likely only slightly. Minnesota has the weapons on offense but coach Tom Thibodeau is a defensive minded coach. He continues to preach defense and perhaps his young nucleus will start implementing it on a more regular basis going forward.
The Timberwolves have gone under the total in their last four games against Northwest Division foes. The under is 4-1 in Minnesota’s last five home games, 7-2 in their last nine against the Western Conference, 9-3 in their last 12 on Sunday and 5-2 in their last seven overall. In addition, the under has hit in five of the last seven meetings between the teams. With Denver playing the second game of a back to back here, they may be a bit worn down. This one could go either way but I’m leaning toward the under.