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HomeSportAre Nuggets’ hopes of a repeat over after falling in 2-0 hole vs. T-Wolves?

Are Nuggets’ hopes of a repeat over after falling in 2-0 hole vs. T-Wolves?

by News7

The Denver Nuggets are unraveling, with their hopes of winning back-to-back NBA titles teetering.

Anthony Edwards and Karl Anthony-Towns led the Minnesota Timberwolves to another win in the Mile High City, dominating Game 2 to beat the Nuggets, 106-80, to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals series.

While Edwards and Towns both put up 27 points, arguably the most impressive part of Minnesota’s win was its defensive effort. The Nuggets shot 34.9 percent from the field and committed 16 turnovers while the Timberwolves were without their defensive anchor, three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, due to the birth of his son.

The Timberwolves’ defensive performance in Game 2 was an improvement from Game 1, which was also a solid outing for them on that side of the ball. They forced Nikola Jokic to commit seven turnovers in the 106-99 win on Saturday while Jamal Murray only put up 17 points in that game.

As the series heads to Minnesota for Game 3 on Friday, Eddie House believes that the Timberwolves’ defense hasn’t been a fluke through the first two games, citing their league-best defensive rating (108.4) from the regular season as a reason why.

“It’s a reason why [the Nuggets] can’t make shots. The [Nuggets] had another quarter with less than 20 points,” House said on Tuesday’s “The Carton Show,” referring to Denver’s 19-point second quarter in Game 2. “Usually, they’re a great second-quarter team, a great third-quarter team and a great closeout team. That’s what their MO has been, they start kind of slow, build up and get better. This is six straight quarters that they’ve held teams under 30 points.

“I don’t see slippage in this team,” House added. “This is a young, hungry team.”

Minnesota’s defense also seemed to frustrate Denver. Murray, who shot 3 of 18 from the field, looked upset with the officiating to the point that he threw a heat pack toward an official while sitting on the bench. Nuggets coach Michael Malone also berated a ref after calling a timeout in the first quarter.

Murray wasn’t assessed a technical foul for his toss from the bench as it wasn’t revealed that he was the one who threw the heat pack until several moments later. It’s also called into question whether he should be suspended for Game 3. 

“That could really seriously hurt somebody if somebody stepped on that,” Tim Hardaway Sr. said of Murray’s heat pad toss on “The Carton Show.” “If I were the NBA, I would take that very, very seriously and I would suspend him for a game. That could be detrimental not only to your teammates, but the other team’s health, too.”

“I thought he threw it to the ref so he could step on it and fall,” House added. “That’s what it looked like. He threw it right by his feet. I understand that you guys want him to get suspended, but I don’t want to see him get suspended — not that it’s not a suspendable act, I believe that is – but if they’re going to get put out, I want to see them put out whole.”

Offensively, Edwards continued to lead the way in Game 2 after his impressive 43-point performance in Game 1. After a brief spurt by the Nuggets in the fourth quarter, Edwards helped keep them at bay with a 3-pointer to put the Timberwolves up by 23 with under seven minutes left. 

After making the shot, Edwards hit the infamous Michael Jordan shrug even though he told FOX Sports’ Melissa Rohlin in recent days that he wants the comparisons to the icon to stop. Regardless of the comparisons, Keyshawn Johnson believes that Edwards is the reason why this series is “a wrap.”

Anthony Edwards, T-Wolves blowout Nuggets 106-80, is Denver done down 0-2? “When you look at [Edwards], everything he does is infectious to the rest of the team,” Johnson said on “Undisputed.” “He even gave you the Michael Jordan shrug, saying ‘They can’t do anything with me.’ The attitude alone trickles through the rest of the team. Their rim protector didn’t play and they figured out defensively how to negate [Jokic] from having a [Jokic]-like game.”

Skip Bayless believes that the Nuggets still have a chance at winning the series, although he and Ric Bucher agree that they haven’t resembled the team that won it all last year this postseason. 

“I thought the way they played against the Lakers was boredom,” Bucher said believing that the Nuggets might have been conserving their energy to take a 3-0 lead in the first-round series. “They lost Game 4 and I thought, ‘OK, here’s the wake-up call. They’re gonna go home and dominate.’ When they didn’t, it was the first time that my confidence in the Nuggets was shaken. 

“Maybe this isn’t boredom. Maybe this is fatigue.”

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