The Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves will meet each other in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs as the 1-8 pairing in the Western Conference. The Nuggets stayed atop the standings for much of the season, while the Timberwolves won Friday’s play-in game to clinch the No. 8 seed.
The Nuggets were finally able to put everything together after years of accumulating talent around MVP center Nikola Jokic. Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are healthy and playing up to their potential, while role players like Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown have rounded out this roster. Jokic has achieved individual greatness with back-to-back MVP honors, but postseason success has eluded him and this team. Can the Nuggets make a run to the Finals as the No. 1 seed, or will they underwhelm as a relatively inexperienced group?
The Timberwolves have made the playoffs, which they thought would be a given after the Rudy Gobert trade in the offseason. Gobert has been alright, but Karl-Anthony Towns missing a big chunk of the season threw a wrench into Minnesota’s plans. Gobert, Towns and Anthony Edwards are healthy for this series and that makes the Timberwolves a legitimate threat. They have been highly inconsistent but that lends them to having some upside other No. 8 seeds might not have.