Wolves at Nuggets
5:00 pm CST
The Wolves will be without both Karl-Anthony Towns (wrist) and D’Angelo Russell (rest/leg soreness) today when they visit Denver to face off against a very good Nuggets team. An excuse not to suffer through this one was needed, and happily provided by the fact that it is airing on NBA TV, and so not available via League Pass. Whew.
Still, even without their stars, the new look Wolves have been fairly fun to watch (and in truth, I wish I could), thanks in part to Malik Beasley, who, along with Juancho Hernangomez, returns to Denver today for the first time since the trade. Both Beasley and Hernangomez were sparingly used by the Nuggets, especially this season, and no doubt both of them will be looking to show their former employer they made a mistake by getting rid of them. This is a good piece in the Athletic about the end of their time in Denver.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets are cruising along, second in the West behind the Lakers, though they have lost their last two bracketing the All-Star break, first to the Lakers at home in overtime, and then at the Thunder on Friday night. No doubt they are looking at their next two games—home against the Wolves and Pistons—as a time to get well.
The Nuggets are above average on both sides of the ball, and their 8th ranked offense is driven in large part by Nikola Jokic. He not only leads them in scoring and assists, but also in offensive rebounding, which is a big part of the Nuggets attack. They are third in the league in offensive rebounding percentage, and that might turn out to be a huge issue for the Wolves today. We saw Daniel Theis and the Celtics run roughshod over the Wolves in the paint and on the glass on Friday night, and they will have to be at their best to avoid something similar tonight.
The Nuggets are not a great shooting team, but they get extra possessions on the offensive glass and by winning the turnover battle most nights. The Wolves, as is usually the case when the other team puts more talent on the floor than you, will have to shoot very well to give themselves a chance in this one.
We’re likely to see Jordan McLaughlin get another start and plenty of run at point guard with Russell out, and he’s been fantastic to watch, and presumably Naz Reid will get the starting assignment opposite Jokic. That will be a real measuring stick for Reid, who has shown some surprising positives since he arrived from Iowa. I’m hopeful for his long term viability, but I admit I’m not yet optimistic about it.
It’s a perfect storm for Malik Beasley to either shoot the Wolves into or out of this one. He’s the only one of their three primary scorers who will suit up today, and you know he’ll be hyped for this return. It could go either way, but should be fun to watch.
Note the odd start time for this one. You can catch the Celtics-Lakers game on ABC at 2:30 before the 5 pm start from Denver.
Our friends over at Denver Stiffs have the Nuggets news. Be excellent.