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Game Preview #57: Wolves at Nuggets

It’s probable the Nuggets return their top-end talent with Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon suiting up for the team’s second consecutive matchup with the Wolves.

Denver Nuggets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Game Info

Injury Report

Per the Nuggets, Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon will return, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s status in limbo after suffering a sprained ankle on Saturday.

What To Watch

The Return of Nikola Jokic

Minnesota beat Denver by 30 points on Sunday night, although there’s a back-to-back MVP-sized asterisk on that victory. Nikola Jokic — and Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — didn’t play, meaning this will surely be a different team the Wolves go up against on Tuesday night.

Bones or No Bones?

Bones Hyland hasn’t played in three games, catching DNPs in each of those games. He’d been struggling before getting parked on the bench, having not scored in double figures since Jan. 11. Hyland has been a name floated around the trade deadline recently, and it’s yet to be known whether his DNPs are at all related to that.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets

The Wolves’ Injury Report

With Rudy Gobert, Kyle Anderson and Jordan McLaughlin all questionable for Tuesday’s game, the script could flip and see Minnesota as the team without their top-end players available.

This would open the door for a tremendous game from Jokic — although it’s kind of a given, no matter the circumstances — as he would face a group of Naz Reid, Nathan Knight and Luka Garza.

A Test of Maturity

The Wolves have been a team of relatively inconsistent effort this year, although it seems to be getting better. Austin Rivers’ leadership and Anthony Edwards’ recent play has leveled out their inconsistent ways to a certain degree (recent losses to the Rockets and Magic may disagree, but I digress).

After beating a shorthanded Denver team on Sunday, it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibilities that Minnesota starts slow in this one. As much as tell themselves this is a totally different team — which it certainly is — they may still have that 30-point win lingering in the back of their minds.

Denver Nuggets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Another Strong Effort From Jaylen Nowell?

Nowell scored 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting on Sunday, also dishing out four dimes and grabbing four rebounds. It was a much-needed spark for Nowell — not necessarily because the Wolves needed it in that game, more so for him — that can hopefully help him get into a rhythm.

If the Timberwolves decide to rest Jordan McLaughlin to manage his left calf strain, it will be Nowell off the bench in the guard spot (as it’s been in the 30 games without McLaughlin).

Filling in the Gaps in Kyle Anderson’s (Potential) Absence

Without Anderson in the front-court, Taurean Prince will be forced to fill the two-way play from Anderson.

Prince hasn’t quite found his shooting streak since returning from a three-game absence, shooting just 30% from deep in the last four games.

In the middle of their Western Conference gauntlet portion of the schedule, the Timberwolves find themselves walking into yet another test against the conference’s elite before the All-Star break.

Edwards is known to shine brightest when the lights come on, and they should certainly be on at Ball Arena on Tuesday night.

Following their matchup with Denver, Minnesota will travel to Utah, then to Memphis and finally to Dallas before taking on the Wizards at Target Center before the break.