Nuggets control their own destiny in West after winning game of the year

Apr 10, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Christian Braun (0) and forward Peyton Watson (8)
Apr 10, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Christian Braun (0) and forward Peyton Watson (8) / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets came out Wednesday night and got one of the biggest wins of the season on national TV against the Minnesota Timberwolves. This pseudo playoff matchup for the number one seed in the West proved to be an amazing game, but as we’ve seen time and again the Nuggets were too much down the stretch and pulled away in the closing minutes for a 116-107 win.

The crowd was up to the occasion as Ball Arena was absolutely rocking, possibly the loudest it’s been since the NBA finals last June. The teams came in tied with equal records of 55-24 with only two games remaining. It was clear the winner would control their destiny to win the Western Conference.

It was apparent from the jump that both teams were approaching this game a little differently. The Nuggets had their entire starting five intact for the first time in a while and although Karl-Anthony Towns wasn’t back for the Timberwolves, you could tell that there was a little extra on the line.

Both teams were on the second night of a back-to-back as they each won big games on Tuesday against lesser opponents, but neither seemed any worse for the wear.

Jokic cements his MVP case

The Wolves battled hard for most of the night, proving why they would be a tough opponent in the playoffs. But ultimately, Nikola Jokic was simply too much. He poured in 41 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists, and all but sewed up the MVP award with this incredible performance.

Anthony Edwards was great for the Timberwolves, especially in the third quarter where he scored 15 points and had the Wolves neck and neck with the Nuggets. But the Nuggets ratcheted up the defense in the fourth quarter and he appeared to run out of gas. The Wolves offense withered, and it was as evident as ever why this team will need Towns back to make a run.

Nuggets bench shines brightly

The other story in this one was the Nuggets’ bench. Christian Braun and Peyton Watson were both incredible and actually stayed on the floor to close the game for the Nuggets. Braun threw down multiple dunks, including one of the most impressive ones you’ll ever see with his left hand over Rudy Gobert. Watson played a really good all-around game but was incredible on the defensive end with an amazing six blocks to go along with his four points and four assists.

With the playoffs just a week and a half away this was about as encouraging a performance from the Nuggets as you could possibly see. This team looks all the way ready to start the playoffs and defend their championship. 

The 1 seed is Denver's to lose

The starting lineup seems to be at full strength and the bench looks as good as it has all year, seeming ready to contribute in a major way now. As long as the Nuggets can take care of business against the Grizzlies and Spurs, the number one seed and homecourt advantage in the Western Conference are all theirs