Are the Nuggets and Timberwolves officially rivals? Nikola Jokic weighs in

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets - Game Seven
Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets - Game Seven / C. Morgan Engel/GettyImages

With the Nuggets being eliminated by the Timberwolves in a hard-fought, epic seven-game battle, it’s fair to wonder if these two Western Conference powers have established a rivalry. This is the second straight year the two teams have squared off in the playoffs, with the Nuggets taking down the Wolves in five games last season.

It seemed like the previous history added to the dynamic in this season’s series as there was some built up familiarity and animosity. The teams play in the same division as well, and it’s not exactly a natural geographic rivalry, but it’s not far off either.

Tim Connelly built the Timberwolves to beat the Nuggets

On top of that, these teams share a common factor in that both were largely built by Tim Connelly. Connelly was the longtime GM of the Nuggets before leaving to become President of Basketball Operations for the Wolves. Many have opined that Connelly essentially built the Nuggets, then went to Minnesota and built a team designed to beat the Nuggets, which they have now done.

There wasn’t any outright hostility on the court, but it was a very chippy and physical series. In the final seconds of Game 7 Anthony Edwards was jokingly waiving goodbye to the Denver crowd as he dribbled out the clock. Then seconds later Jaden McDaniels attempted an extremely showy dunk off of a self alley-oop. The Nuggets, and especially Nikola Jokic seemed to take exception to these antics.

Nikola Jokic and other Nuggets believe this is a rivalry

Once the game was over, multiple players were asked about the rivalry and the Nuggets’ players didn’t shy away from it at all. Jokic was quick to say he believes the two teams are rivals and acknowledged that the Wolves were built with the Nuggets specifically in mind.

Christian Braun took things a step further and said straight up that he doesn’t like the T-Wolves. Other players offered similar sentiments. Everyone was gracious in defeat and they were quick to praise the Wolves, but it’s clear that this rivalry is growing.

This is a great thing for the NBA and the game of basketball. The league needs more rivalries and bad blood and this one seems perfect. The Nuggets and Wolves will play each other at least four more times next regular season and hopefully, we are lucky enough to get a third straight playoff matchup. The Nuggets will be ready, but this Wolves team isn’t going away any time soon.