Bennett Durando: Nuggets vs. Timberwolves: 5 themes to watch for in Game 7 of an odd NBA playoff series

Bennett Durando, The Denver Post on

Published in Basketball

DENVER — Game 7s make for great theater, but not only because of the stakes and suspense. They are the final act of a ballet between two teams who have already revealed their choreography. There will be variations on the themes from earlier, but those themes have been seen and interpreted throughout six games. Now it’s the sheer quality of the performance that counts most.

I’ve been at all six games of this peculiar NBA playoff series between the Nuggets and Timberwolves. Here are five themes I think might be important Sunday at Ball Arena. Game 7 will either end with a roaring ovation for the Nuggets and an encore in the Western Conference finals — or it’ll be curtains.

1. Murray isn’t Denver’s only erratic scorer

I’ve already devoted a separate story to the importance of Jamal Murray’s offense in deciding Game 7, so let’s treat that as a given and use this space to focus on Denver’s third option.

Michael Porter Jr. was lethal in the first round, shooting 48.8% from 3. He entered this matchup expecting Anthony Edwards to guard him and Jaden McDaniels to start on Murray. Instead, the Timberwolves have committed the lengthier McDaniels to MPJ for a surprising amount of time.

“He’s so tall that most people can’t block him, so for me, I’m just gonna not let him get the ball,” McDaniels said between the first two games, after that hand was shown. “Try to, at least.”


Consider it a success. Porter’s field-goal attempts per game are down from 15.2 in the first round to 9.7 in the second round. His points per touch are down dramatically from 0.481 to 0.255. According to the NBA’s tracking data, Porter has attempted 10 shots in 29:55 with McDaniels matched up on him, as opposed to 16 in 22:08 with Edwards as his matchup. The Timberwolves aren’t helping off of Porter much at all, dead-set on denying him the ball and making him uncomfortable when he gets to his spots. He’s not getting opportunities to attack close-outs as much (dribbles per touch are also down from 1.11 to 0.81). And when he does find clean 3-point looks, they’re just not falling at the same rate (35.3%).

“They’ve got Rudy (Gobert), so they don’t really bring in a low man on my side; they’ve just kind of got Rudy roaming, and it’s taken away the open looks that I get,” Porter said. “I’ve gotta find a way to integrate myself into the game.”

How creative can Denver get with off-ball action to get Porter back in a rhythm with the season on the line?

2. Can Nuggets afford to swarm Edwards?


swipe to next page

©2024 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus