The Minnesota Timberwolves continue to speed ahead toward their first postseason appearance since 2003-04 when they go after a fifth straight victory Wednesday night against the visiting Denver Nuggets. The Timberwolves are eight games over .500 (21-13) for the first time in 14 seasons after rolling to a 121-104 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday and are averaging 114 points during their win streak.
“Four in a row is four in a row,” Minnesota shooting guard Jimmy Butler told reporters after scoring 23 on Monday. “Just try to build upon it. We can’t settle at four in a row. We have to go home, take care of the next one and make it five.” The Timberwolves are 11-6 on their home court as they go for a fourth straight victory over the Nuggets, who extended their winning streak to three with a 107-83 triumph at home against Utah on Tuesday. Denver limited the Jazz to 32.1 percent shooting from the field and received 22 points from Jamal Murray as it improved to 19-15 - it’s best 34-game mark since 2010-11. The Nuggets have allowed an average of 83 points during their winning streak after suffering a 112-104 loss to Minnesota on Dec. 20 as Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns scored 25 each for the Timberwolves while Murray poured in 30.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Altitude (Denver), FSN North (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE NUGGETS (19-15): Center Nikola Jokic managed 13 points before being ejected for a flagrant 2 foul, and is still averaging 20 points along with 7.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists over his past four contests. Shooting guard Gary Harris leads the team in scoring (16.2) and is averaging 20.6 over the last six contests while reserve Trey Lyles continues to raise his level of play, posting 15 points per game in the same span. Guard Will Barton has cooled off in the last five games, averaging 7.6 points and draining just 27.5 percent from the field, and forward Wilson Chandler is scoring 17 per contest over the last three.
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (21-13): Butler leads the team in scoring (20.7) after averaging 29.3 over the last three games and center Karl-Anthony Towns (20.5 points, 11.6 rebounds) has recorded three straight double-doubles. Forward Taj Gibson is averaging 14.4 points over the last five contests after pouring in 23 against the Lakers - one off his season high, but his all-around game is key. “(Gibson) just has a knack of coming up with big plays when you need it most, whether it’s a defensive rebound, a blocked shot, a charge, a timely bucket,” coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters. “… He’s relentless.”
1. Denver PG Emmanuel Mudiay (ankle) scored seven points in two minutes Tuesday after returning from a four-game absence.
2. Minnesota F Nemanja Bjelica had one point and two rebounds Monday after missing the previous 15 games with a foot injury.
3. Murray has drained 11 of his 19 attempts from 3-point range over the last four games, including 5-of-6 versus the Timberwolves.
PREDICTION: Timberwolves 112, Nuggets 102