Timberwolves

The Joker Was on the Timberwolves in Stunning Game 3

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I can’t believe what I saw last night. The Denver Nuggets, who looked completely outmatched in the first two playoff games against the Minnesota Timberwolves, looked radically better in Game 3 and destroyed the Timberwolves.

Looking like a different basketball team in every way— more cohesive, aggressive, and dominant— the defending world champion Nuggets blew out their opponent by 27 points who less than a week ago had everybody believing they were superior to the Nuggets and on their way to an NBA title. They made the Nuggets look not just inferior but also inept.

So how did this script change happen?

It started with aggressive offensive drives to the basket making defenders have to confront them. The mindset was to show the Timberwolves’ defense, the best in the NBA, they would not be intimidated but rather take the contact and physical confrontations directly at them.

The Nuggets also simplified their offensive strategy. Give the ball to Jamal Murray, let him dribble for open shots off Nikola Jokic’s picks, and take his shots or dish to Joker. That was it. Over and over. No other offensive plays mattered. No overthinking. This two-man game, which is the most lethal in the league, would be the way the Nuggets would play and the tactic worked. Murray hit his shots, unlike the first two games. For the first time in the series, the Wolves looked beatable.

Defensively, the Nuggets darted all over the court, moving faster and with a sense of desperation after being torched the first two games, and went all in together on hauling in rebounds.

The star of the Wolves, Anthony Edwards, was rendered ordinary because he couldn’t slither for easy layups like in the first two games. It was all because the Nuggets moved around so fast and in unison punctuated by Joker’s red-hot quick hands causing deflections and steals. The guy is incredible.

An unimaginable turnaround this game was. As bad as they were in games 1 and 2 the Nuggets were good in game 3. It does seem the Wolves were overconfident and listless figuring they had the series sealed after annihilating the Nuggets in the two games in Denver. Tomorrow’s game 4 will be a more urgent situation for them and their intensity will rise.

But there’s the Joker, who was no joke last night after suffering through one of his most embarrassing performances in game 2 scoring 24 points, hauling 14 rebounds, and getting 9 assists. I was convinced after that he didn’t have enough game to elevate his team back from the abyss.

But Joker re-emerged last night and he wasn’t joking around, with an overt intensity he rarely reveals probably because he’s angry at all the people saying he didn’t deserve his third regular season MVP namely Shaquille O’Neill.

Screw that and them, Joker seemed to be saying by his deft passing, feathery touch, and non-stop pick setting last night. Makes you wonder if Shaq and other Joker skeptics poked the Serbian bear one too many times and now they’re all going to pay because he’s going to shut them all up — again — like last year when they stole the regular season MVP from him so he won the NBA title and final series MVP.

It’s hard to say if he’ll repeat hug revenge because of how resoundingly the Wolves destroyed Denver in the opening two games. It appears the key recipe for Denver is a heavy dose of Murray and Joker exquisite pick and rolls, in-your-face drives directly at defensive stars and giants Rudy Gobert and Karl Anthony Towns, and letting the Joker orchestrate everything like the basketball genius he is.

I will be surprised if Denver wins game 4 and goes on to take the series after their anemic performances in the first two games. Minnesota looked so much better than that I can’t get that memory out of my mind. Last night’s win seemed completely implausible, especially Denver’s dominance.

I don’t see the same thing happening in Game 4. Now the Wolves feel the pressure and that will make it tough for the Joker to come through again.

Doesn’t seem like that will happen unless he plays his best. The Timberwolves have shown they can prevent that.

Sammy Sportface

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Sammy Sportface

Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here: Sammy Sportface Has a Vision -- Check It Out Sammy Sportface -- The Baby Boomer Brotherhood Blog -- Facebook Page
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Sammy Sportface
Sammy Sportface
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:

Sammy Sportface Has a Vision -- Check It Out

Sammy Sportface -- The Baby Boomer Brotherhood Blog -- Facebook Page

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