Nuggets' potential 2nd round opponent settled after dominant series sweep

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Four
Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Four / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

The first round of the 2024 NBA playoffs are in full swing as the Denver Nuggets are leading their series three games to one over the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nuggets have a chance to close things out on Monday night in Ball Arena where they can advance to the second round of the playoffs.

So who would the Nuggets play in the 2nd round?

The first series of the playoffs to conclude was the Western Conference battle between the sixth-seeded Phoenix Sun and the third-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves. The Timberwolves finished off the seriously quickly and impressively, decisively sweeping the initially favored Suns in four games.

That means the Wolves will move on to play the winner of the 2/7 matchup in the Western Conference Semifinals, which is the Nuggets and Lakers series. The Nuggets now know that if they advance they will be squaring off with the Wolves next round.

Nuggets and Timberwolves recent history

The Nuggets and Wolves squared off four times this regular season, with each winning two of the games. They rotated wins this year, and also each split two games in their own buildings. For the most part, this was an extremely even matchup in the regular season.

These teams also met in the playoffs last season with the Nuggets winning 4-1 in the first round. At the time it was seen as good just for Minnesota to steal a game, but they’re in a different class this year. They led the conference for much of the season and boasted the league’s best defense by a wide margin.

If the Nuggets move on this will be a challenging matchup, facing a team with a ton of size, an elite defense, and an ascending perimeter superstar in Anthony Edwards. Denver will be favored in a series against any West team, but this could be their biggest threat.

Increased urgency to close out the Lakers

For the first time in these playoffs, the Nuggets now have a little urgency. The Wolves are already through and resting while Denver will need at least one extra first-round game. On top of that, the Nuggets are now facing some injury concerns. The last thing they want to do is burn extra energy by going back to LA to play another game. They need to close this thing out Monday night.