The Denver Nuggets are coming off a huge 100-96 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The win brings the Nuggets up to par with the T-Wolves at a 44-35 record. However, since they do not own the tie-breaker, Denver still sits one seed out of the playoffs.
The playoff atmosphere of this most recent game between the two may pale in comparison to their regular season finale against each other. Definitely make sure to tune into that game on Wednesday, April 11!
An Unlikely Victory
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, though, let’s take a look at the most recent #MileHighBasketball win. The number of the night was thirty-nine, as in the 39% field goal percentage shot by the Nuggets.
For a team ranking 26th in the league in defensive efficiency, it’s a rarity to leave the arena as victors on such a poor shooting night. While a lazy analysis would suggest the Nuggets locked down on defense to pull off the win, that was not necessarily the case.
Here’s a stat for you: with the exception of Andrew Wiggins‘s points and Jeff Teague‘s assists, every Timberwolves starter either matched or exceeded their season average in points, rebounds and assists on that night. Yes, I understand that’s a weird stat to throw out there, but it indicates how well the Minnesota starters played.
How the Nuggets Won
Now onto why exactly the Nuggets were able to win. First off, we can’t deny that Jimmy Butler‘s absence favored Denver’s cause. Second, the Nuggets may have used time travel, but hopefully Adam Silver either didn’t notice or just lets it slide. The time travel referred to was pulled off by none other than 14-year veteran Devin Harris.
Back in a simpler time, 2008 to be exact, when the Nets were located in New Jersey, Devin Harris had a monster season, averaging 21.3 points and 6.9 assists. He returned to that form on Thursday to pour in 20 points in 20 minutes off the bench. Harris’ output single-handedly outscored the Minnesota bench.
The third key to a Nuggets win was timely offensive rebounding and clutch free throw shooting. The team shot a perfect 6-for-6 in the final two minutes of the game. They also collected the majority of their offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter which led to many free throws.
In terms of broader stats, Jamal Murray led the way in scoring by dropping 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. On a very rough shooting night, Nikola Jokic still managed impressive numbers of 16 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. Will Barton also filled up the stat sheet with 14 points, six rebounds and six assists. As previously pointed out, Devin Harris stepped up off the bench to score 20 points. He did this on 6-of-11 shooting from the field and 5-of-9 from deep. Subsequently, this made his 20 minutes of action enough to boost the Nuggets to a statement win.
There’s no question the Nuggets have been a pretty good team all season, but ‘pretty good’ doesn’t make the playoffs in the western conference. The ability to grind out wins is what it takes to be a playoff team and possibly advance. It’s also what’s needed to win their next three games against teams vying for a playoff spot or playoff position. Keep it locked to @ArmchairNuggets for all your #MileHighBasketball news!