Mile High Cypher Report Part 3: Nuggets battle with Wolves for Game 3 victory, one win away from series sweep

By Daniel Paiz

Mile High Cypher Report part 3 is back as the Denver Nuggets battled with the Minnesota Timberwolves for a Game 3 victory, winning 120-111 in Minneapolis. Nikola Jokic had a triple double with 20 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds while Michael Porter Jr. led Denver with 25 points and 9 rebounds. Jokic’s 7th career playoff triple double among centers makes him second only to Wilt Chamberlain, who has 9 playoff triple doubles.

Minnesota got that stellar performance from Karl-Anthony Towns, as he scored 27 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Anthony Edwards led the Wolves with 36 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists in a losing effort. Two of the four quarters were all tied up, making the fourth quarter the deciding factor.

Game 4 takes place on Sunday at the Target Center in Minneapolis, where the top seed in the West will look to complete the sweep; meanwhile, Minnesota will be looking to force a Game 5 back in Denver on Tuesday. This one was the closest of the three so far, and it came down to a handful of things that just went left instead of right.

Game 3 Recap

Denver maintained their efforts from the second quarter into the third, while Minnesota stepped it up to tie that pivotal third quarter. This game was very much about both how you start and how you finish, as Denver rallied to tie it in the first, and Minnesota fell short in rallying during the fourth. In terms of overall improvement, the Wolves played their best game to date. They went to the free throw line 35 times, every single player who stepped onto the floor had an assist (much like Denver did in Game 1), and their big three showed up. The tale of two benches is what decided this third installment, along with Denver edging the home team out in nearly every category.

Minnesota shot more free throws and had fewer turnovers (by one less turnover). Every other major category from field goal percentage, rebounds, and points in the paint belonged to the Nuggets. 35 free throws for the Wolves versus 13 for the Nuggets (a good chunk being awarded to Denver in the last quarter to boot) seemed a bit off; one would think the NBA corrects that discrepancy in Game 4.

When it comes to what won the game, it was Denver again having six players score double figures, while Minnesota had Towns, Edwards, and Rudy Gobert score double digits but no further help outside of Mike Conley. The team stat boxes are pretty similar, and really only differ in volume:

Keys to Game 4

Minnesota had the crowd support for the majority of this game. The Wolves had the lead early in the first before the Nuggets rally. They also put together some runs in the third to match Denver’s efforts. At the sign of four zeroes, however, the home team didn’t win a single quarter in Game 3 and have only won one of twelve quarters through three games at this point. One could ask for more points from Mike Conley, Taurean Prince, Jaylen Nowell, and Kyle Anderson. The solutions to Minnesota’s problems are as simple as it gets: score more points, get more defensive stops.

That can of course be done by outrebounding, outshooting, and outworking Denver. Much easier said than done; Denver was outhustled though when it came to fast break points, losing that contest 13 to Minnesota’s 15. It’s still coming down to a volume issue for the eight seed. Denver shot five more field goals than Minnesota, but also made 12 more field goals.

The focus is there for the one seed, the coaching adjustments balance when foul trouble happens, and when the scoring streaks and droughts occur. Denver could use a bit more scoring from Murray in Game 4, but if all five starters and one bench guy get double digit points, it’ll be a sweep. This would be an ideal outcome, as getting some rest and regrouping would help before playing their next opponent.


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