National Basketball Association
Nuggets vs. Timberwolves: Who will get the last laugh in Game 7?
National Basketball Association

Nuggets vs. Timberwolves: Who will get the last laugh in Game 7?

Updated May. 30, 2024 3:59 p.m. ET

The jokes were piling up. 

A Cinderella story for the Minnesota Timberwolves after their 2-0 start? Ha. The reigning champion Denver Nuggets were making them look more like a fluke than a contender. MVP vs. Defensive Player of the Year? Funny. Nikola Jokić was having his way with Rudy Gobert, making him look more like a pesky fly than a defensive stalwart.

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How quickly that narrative can change. 


In Game 6, the Timberwolves responded to their recent three-game skid with a 45-point win, 115-70, tying their Western Conference semifinals series, 3-3. 

Forty-five points? In the playoffs? Against the defending champions? That's the type of performance that can swing things. And with everything coming down to Game 7 on Sunday, you have to wonder whether the Nuggets can shake off this mental hangover in time to remember their DNA. 

The Timberwolves were unrecognizable from their recent stagnant play. 

Let's start with their defense. Remember Game 5 when Nikola Jokić had his way with the Timberwolves, finishing with 40 points on 15-for-22 shooting, 13 assists and seven rebounds? You know, the game that inspired Draymond Green to take jabs at both Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns?

In short, in an appearance on TNT, Green said Gobert was being so cooked that he likened him to "BBQ chicken." And he poked fun at Karl-Anthony Towns limping off the floor "after he played the rest of that game totally fine."

Well, both of those guys transformed from punchlines to heavyweights in Game 6. 

They held Jokic to 22 points on 9-for-19 shooting and just two assists, his second-lowest scoring output this postseason. They combined for 27 rebounds. Gobert was plus-30 and Towns was plus-25. The Timberwolves held the Nuggets to just 30.2 percent shooting from the field and 19.4 percent from beyond the arc. 

Now, moving onto Anthony Edwards, who is widely considered a young version of Michael Jordan. He was phenomenal, finishing a plus-43 in 33 minutes of play. His impact extended beyond the box score (27 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals). 

Edwards boxed up Jamal Murray, who finished with just 10 points on 4-for-18 shooting. The 22-year-old was even caught on camera, showing the leadership of someone a decade wiser, urging his older teammates to "keep your foot on the gas" despite their lead.

Everyone dug into their heels, refusing to lose four games in a row against the Nuggets. Naz Reid had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Jaden McDaniels contributed 21 points. The Timberwolves finished with 51 rebounds, compared to the Nuggets' 33 boards. The Timberwolves were at their best, a defensive and offensive juggernaut, with everyone engaged. 

It was just a complete performance from a Timberwolves team that was all but considered dead. And it came after they fell into a 9-2 hole at the top of the game. 

They showed grit. 

Now, they have the edge. They have the momentum. And it's the reigning champions who are on their heels. 

Everything will now come down to one game, with one franchise trying to make history by winning their first championship. And another trying to repeat history. 

Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.


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