Minnesota at Denver
Time: 9:30 PM CT (TNT)
Spread: DEN -9
Odds c/o 5dimes
DEN TEAM NOTES:
Key behind the Denver Nuggets’ unorthodox attack is the play of “point-center” Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets run its offense through its talented 5-man, and Jokic leads all centers in assists per game at 7.5 per game. Adding that to his 19.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game produce a team-best PER of 26.1 as Jokic is quietly one of the league’s best big men. His strong passing abilities enable the Nuggets to play Jamal Murray at the point guard position where he ranks No. 2 on the team in scoring at 18.3 points per game. The Nuggets have been without Will Barton the majority of the season, too, which is no small loss as he is the team’s No. 3 offensive option.
Oddly, Paul Millsap’s role has declined heavily this season and the former All-Star is averaging under 13 points per game. The Nuggets have a deep rotation of talented scorers and average 110.3 points per game with six players averaging double-figures. Among those is Monte Morris at 10.0 points per game and Malik Beasley nearly at 9.8 per game. Both are talented guards that are finally receiving their chances in the Denver Nuggets backcourt following the jettisoning of one-time Nugget Emmanuel Mudiay.
Denver also is able to go into its second unit and produce a similar style play given the talents of backup center Mason Plumlee. He functioned as a point-center of sorts while in Portland and he averages 2.4 assists per game in under 20 minutes of play. The Nuggets have a legitimate 9 or 10-man rotation and with Jokic it truly possesses a franchise player capable of making game-changing plays and having phenomenal nightly performances. Not many are still sleeping on what the Nuggets might be capable of in the 2019 postseason.
MINNESOTA TEAM NOTES:
The Minnesota Timberwolves have won its past two outings, but three games below .500 it has no chance at the postseason. Minnesota is just 9-25 on the road this season where it encounters the Nuggets in this Tuesday night showdown.
The Wolves most recently lost to the struggling Memphis Grizzlies. Despite Memphis having basically its entire roster on the trade block, it got 25 points from Mike Conley and 23 points from rookie Jaren Jackson Jr, as it defeated Minnesota 108-106. The Wolves got a huge game from Karl-Anthony Towns in the loss, as he finished with 26 points and 18 rebounds. Dario Saric had one of his better games since coming to Minnesota in the trade that sent Jimmy Butler to Philly.
Saric finished with 22 points, five assists, and seven rebounds in 33 minutes while posting a team-best +29 for his time on the court. Saric knocked down 4 of 7 from three and 4 of 4 from the line and put in a really complete offensive performance. Saric is averaging just seven points per game over his last 10 games, but he has turned it on so far in February, averaging 14 points and 5.5 rebounds in 25 minutes a night through two games. Ideally, Saric becomes a great stretch-4 complement to Towns in the starting lineup, but it just has not quite happened yet. His inconsistency is the primary reason why. Despite having an outstanding performance against Memphis, he had failed to score more than eight points in the three previous games.
Saric did have 11 boards in a 111-125 loss to Utah on Jan 27, but he shot just 1 of 4 from the field for three points. The Wolves just never are quite sure which Saric will turn up, but when he is at his best he looks like a fringe All-Star, while at his worst looking nearly “un-rosterable.” Eventually, Saric will have to gain consistency, because while he was overshadowed in Philadelphia, he is now receiving ample chances with the Wolves but only making the best of it at times.