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NBA: Nuggets Defeat Timberwolves, Take Top Position in West

The Denver Nuggets were at home on Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves looking to take the first seed in the Western Conference with a win. 

Both teams came into the matchup with a record of 55-24, which meant the game would decide who would take 1st place. It should be noted that Minnesota held the tiebreaker between the two teams which meant if they ended in a tie, the Timberwolves would get the top seed.

With everything on line, the Nuggets were able to pull off a 116-107 victory to win their third game in a row and push themselves ahead in the race for the West. There is still a chance that the Timberwolves could take first place back however if Denver loses and the Timberwolves win out their last couple games.

Nikola Jokic had a monster game, putting up 41 points to go with 11 rebounds and 7 assists. The big-man went 16-20 from the field and dominated the paint.  Jamal Murray added 20 points and Michael Porter Jr. finished with 18.

For the Timberwolves, Anthony Edwards led the way with 25 points while Mike Conley finished with 19, going 5-of-9 from three-point land. 

The Timberwolves have been without star center Karl-Anthony Towns who underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus last month. Towns has been cleared for full-contact basketball practices though and could play in one of the remaining two regular season games. His return could be huge for Minnesota if they are expecting to make a deep run this postseason.

The Nuggets will close out the regular season on the road. They will have the San Antonio Spurs first and then the Memphis Grizzlies. Both teams are well under 0.500 and should be rather easy games for the defending champions.  

If the Nuggets end up clinching first place it will be their second straight season with home court advantage in the West. They were 10-1 at home in the postseason last year, so winning home court could end up playing a large role in whether they can repeat this year.  

Wednesday NBA Roundup

In other NBA action, the Orlando Magic visited the Milwaukee Bucks for a chance to stay in 4th place in the East. Unfortunately, the Magic couldn’t hold off the surging Bucks, losing 117-99 and falling to the 5th spot.

Bobby Portis and Damian Lillard led the way for Milwaukee, scoring 30 and 29 points respectively in the absence of star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

Antetokounmpo went down late in the third quarter of Milwaukee’s win over Boston with a left calf strain and did not return. It has been reported that he will rest the remaining 2 games of the regular season but will likely join the team for the postseason.

The Dallas Mavericks continued their hot streak, winning their fifth consecutive game in Miami against the Heat. Luka Doncic nearly had yet another triple-double with 29 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists. Kyrie Irving had another strong game with 25 points on 10-15 shooting which included 5 three pointers.

The Mavericks seemed to have sealed a minimum of 5th place in the West and will be looking to chase down the Clippers for home court advantage. Either way, Dallas will play their opening series of the playoffs against the Clippers, a team Doncic has had much success against in the past.

Cleveland were able to pull off a crucial win to hold on to the 4th spot in the East and pull within half a game of the Knicks in 3rd. The 110-98 win came against an undermanned Memphis Grizzlies who are currently 13 in the West. The Cavs have had a tough time as of late, only winning four of their last 10 games.

The Oklahoma City Thunder kept their chances of winning the Western Conference alive with a 127-89 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the way for OKC, dropping 26 points in just 26 minutes of play.

The Thunder are now tied with the Timberwolves for second place in the Western Conference but will need some help to chase down the Nuggets who are a game ahead.