Timberwolves vs. Nuggets Game 1 prediction: NBA playoffs odds, picks, best bets

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The first Western Conference semifinals series features a battle between the Nuggets and Timberwolves, two teams that faced off in the first round of last season’s playoffs.

However, this series should be much more competitive than the one from last year that saw Denver win in five games en route to the NBA title.

Minnesota swept the sixth-seeded Suns in Round 1 without breaking much of a sweat. Anthony Edwards put together two legendary road performances in which he averaged 38 points, nine rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.5 stocks (steals and blocks) on a 54/44/86 shooting split.

Meanwhile, Denver got out of the first round in just five games, despite the Lakers leading most of the time throughout the series. Jamal Murray knocked down two game-winning shots to propel the Nuggets to the semifinals.

Could we be in for an historic series with these two teams? Let’s break down Saturday’s Game 1 in Denver.

Timberwolves vs. Nuggets odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total Timberwolves +4.5 (-115) +154 o207.5 (-110) Nuggets -4.5 (-105) -185 u207.5 (-110) Odds via DraftKings

Timberwolves vs. Nuggets prediction

(7 p.m. ET, TNT)

To some degree, this is an unfavorable second-round matchup for the Nuggets, who will be going up against the league’s top defense in the Minnesota Timberwolves.

For one, Minnesota has several players it can throw at Murray, including Edwards, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Jaden McDaniels. McDaniels, in particular, could be an interesting player to deploy on Murray. Just keep him away from any walls he might be able to punch!

The Wolves can also stick Karl Anthony-Towns on Jokic, and Gobert on Aaron Gordon, who will spend most of his time in the dunker’s spot or the corner. That will allow Gobert to roam and protect the rim.

Anthony Edwards (5) and Jamal Murray (27) have been on fire in the playoffs. NBAE via Getty Images

Gobert, KAT and Naz Reid can switch off on Jokic and throw different looks at him defensively. It won’t stop him but could slow him down at least a bit, which will be paramount considering the Wolves are not a great offensive team by any stretch of the imagination.

Further, Minnesota can hide Mike Conley Jr. on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at times, and even if he struggles, Alexander-Walker can sub in, which brings me to the next point: bench disparity.

Depth could cause the Nuggets some trouble throughout this series. In fact, Minnesota ranked second in bench net rating, while Denver was just 22nd.

Betting on the NBA?

Denver will adjust to Minnesota’s size and depth, but it could be too much to handle in Game 1, especially if foul trouble comes into play.

The Timberwolves should keep this one close with their defense; even if Murray delivers another fourth-quarter special, 4.5 points is too many for me to lay with Denver.

Pick: Timberwolves +4.5 (-115, FanDuel)

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