Without Rudy Gobert, the Wolves slap the Nuggets and take the break! • USA Basketball

Without Rudy Gobert, the Wolves slap the Nuggets and take the break! • USA Basketball
Without Rudy Gobert, the Wolves slap the Nuggets and take the break! • USA Basketball

With their backs to the wall and led for the first time in a playoff series since 2022, the Nuggets cannot afford to let go of this Game 2 at home. In this sense, the absence of Rudy Gobert (happy dad during the day) is a good thing except that, as in Game 1, it is the Wolves who ruled the roost away from home, winning easily (106-80) to find themselves at 2-0 before returning home.

Without their French teammate, Anthony Edwards (27 points, 7 assists) and Karl-Anthony Towns (27 points, 12 rebounds) did not hide, unlike Jamal Murray for example, and Denver relied on Nikola Jokic (16 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists) and Aaron Gordon (20 points). Note that the pair Naz ReidNickeil Alexander-Walker (28 points, 11 rebounds and 7 blocks in total) made the difference for Minnesota out of the bench.

The Wolves send a (big) message

After a generally balanced start, which saw Karl-Anthony Towns and Aaron Gordon gain confidence in shooting and feed their team’s mark, the Wolves began to break away at the end of the first quarter, when the benches opened (28- 20). It is then that, in the second, the Nuggets attack continues to constantly break its teeth on the opposing defense, like Jamal Murray, and, during this time, “KAT” and the pair Naz Neid – Nickeil Alexander-Walker punishes at the other end.

The gap climbs and settles around twenty points. Denver takes water but tries to hang on, despite Nikola Jokic also short of solutions. Until Anthony Edwards, still helped by Karl-Anthony Towns, – already – delivered the fatal blow before the break, taking advantage of the champion’s losses and insisting in the paint (61-35). The spectators at the Ball Arena are stunned, like all those present in front of their screen.

Stifling on defense and easy on offense, the Wolves execute their game plan to perfection. They don’t panic, play with serenity and give the impression of mastering their basketball inside out. There are sometimes imperfections, in shooting or with the ball, but overall, the collective of Chris Finch and Micah Nori calmly manages the lead, despite the efforts of Nikola Jokic and others to offer themselves second chances ( 82-60).

We might as well say it right away: the fourth quarter is of little interest, because Anthony Edwards’ pack will not crack, continuing above all to suffocate Denver and confirm its superiority. The gap never goes back down, the 3-pointers and baskets in the paint accumulate, and Minnesota turns to 2-0 at the end of a second round (106-80) that looks like a life-size message: the “ sweep” cannot be ruled out and this group is well and truly on course for the title!

WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER

Everything is going well for Minnesota. Six games and six victories for the Wolves in the “postseason” who, for the first time in their history, lead a second time 2-0 during the same playoff campaign. Even without Rudy Gobert, there is a real impression of collective domination, in attack and defense. It’s pretty crazy to watch and the Nuggets have their backs against the wall, while it’s already hard to imagine a turnaround in this series. Led by the Anthony Edwards – Karl-Anthony Towns duo, everyone knows their role perfectly in this team, definitely above the rest.

Denver is already KO. Rarely, in the past two years, have the Nuggets been crushed like this by an opponent. However, since the start of this series, we feel that the Wolves have found the key to thwarting the reigning champions, who find themselves at 0-2 and will now have to reverse the trend… away. In history, only five teams have managed to overcome such a deficit even though they lost their first two home games: Lakers 1969, Rockets 1994, Mavericks 2005, Celtics 2017 and Clippers 2021. The mission promises to be tough, but not impossible… unless Denver continues to play like this.

Rudy Gobert absent for a happy event. The day before (probably) becoming Defender of the Year again, which would be his fourth title (a record shared with Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace), Rudy Gobert first became a father this Monday for the very first time. Very nice news for the Frenchman, who had already explained a few weeks ago that he was not going to miss this event for anything in the world. Even though he tried to reach Denver in time for Game 2, he was unable to do so and, with his son, he was nevertheless able to watch the Wolves make the break in Colorado. Ideal for the rest of this series.

Denver / 80 Shots Rebounds
Players Min Shots 3pts L.F. O D T Pd Party Int Bp Ct +/- Pts Eval
A.Gordon 33 8/14 3/5 1/2 3 1 4 2 2 1 1 0 -33 20 19
Mr. Porter Jr. 39 4/12 1/7 0/0 1 4 5 2 0 1 4 1 -21 9 6
N.Jokic 39 5/13 0/1 6/6 6 10 16 8 2 0 4 1 -16 16 29
J.Murray 36 3/18 0/4 2/2 2 11 13 2 3 2 4 1 -16 8 7
K. Caldwell-Pope 28 2/6 0/2 0/0 2 1 3 0 4 1 1 0 -12 4 3
Z.Nnaji 3 0/1 0/0 1/2 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 -2 1 1
B.Key 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
H.Tyson 3 0/1 0/1 0/0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 0 -1
P.Watson 9 0/2 0/1 0/2 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 -10 0 -1
J.Holiday 22 4/6 4/5 1/2 0 2 2 1 2 0 1 0 -3 13 12
J.Huff 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
R.Jackson 10 1/6 1/3 0/0 1 1 2 1 1 0 1 0 -13 3 0
C. Gillespie 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Pickett 3 1/1 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 2 2
C. Braun 11 1/2 0/0 0/0 1 1 2 0 0 1 0 1 +2 2 5
J. Strawther 3 0/1 0/1 2/2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 2 1
29/83 9/30 13/18 18 32 50 16 14 6 16 6 80 83
Minnesota / 106 Shots Rebounds
Players Min Shots 3pts L.F. O D T Pd Party Int Bp Ct +/- Pts Eval
J. McDaniels 26 2/7 0/1 1/2 0 2 2 3 5 2 1 1 +26 5 6
K.Anderson 26 3/8 0/1 0/0 7 2 9 8 1 2 2 1 +13 6 19
K.Towns 36 10/15 3/5 4/4 2 10 12 1 4 1 2 2 +21 27 36
Mr. Conley 32 2/5 0/2 0/1 0 3 3 6 3 2 0 1 +20 4 12
A. Edwards 37 11/17 1/4 4/7 0 2 2 7 2 2 4 0 +18 27 25
J.Jackson 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Minott 3 1/1 1/1 0/0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +3 3 3
L.Miller 3 0/1 0/1 0/0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 +3 0 1
L.Garza 3 1/2 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 +3 2 2
N.Reid 29 5/14 4/8 0/0 1 4 5 0 1 1 2 4 +9 14 13
Mr. Morris 8 1/4 0/3 0/0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 -3 2 0
J. McLaughlin 3 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 +3 0 1
N. Alexander-Walker 30 5/9 4/7 0/0 0 6 6 1 1 0 1 3 +11 14 19
D.Nix 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J.Clark 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
W. Moore Jr. 3 1/1 0/0 0/0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 +3 2 3
42/84 13/33 9/14 10 32 42 28 20 11 12 12 106 140

How to read the stats? Min = Minutes; Shots = Successful shots / Attempted shots; 3pts = 3-points / 3-points attempted; LF = free throws made / free throws attempted; O = offensive rebound; D=defensive rebound; T = Total rebounds; Pd = assists; Fte: Personal fouls; Int = Intercepts; Bp = Lost balls; Ct: Against; +/- = Point differential when the player is on the field; Pts = Points; Eval: player evaluation calculated from positive actions – negative actions.

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