April 11, 2018, 12:21 pm
It all comes down to this. One final matchup to determine the 16th and final playoff spot in the NBA.
This is the equivalent of the 11-seed play-in game for the NCAA tournament, or the MLB Wild Card playoff game. Everything is on the line. If it feels like this doesn’t happen often, that would be a correct assumption. This is only sixth true one-game playoff in NBA history, and the first in more than two decades.
— Dave Benz (@tweetdavebenz) April 10, 2018
Oddly enough the Nuggets have been involved in half of the games. The Wolves hope to put the first blemish on that record with a win on their home floor.
Hosting the Nuggets at the Target Center is a huge advantage for Minnesota. The Wolves are 29-11 at home with a net rating of 5.5, compared to just 17-24 on the road and a -0.8 net rating. Their offense specifically takes a major leap at home with a 112.6 rating, good for third best in the NBA. They also avoid the high altitude of Denver.
With a healthy Jimmy Butler back in the fold the Wolves look to be in a great spot of take the final game of the season, but there are areas of concern.
Taj Gibson’s status is unknown after he left early in the last game with a neck injury. He is the key cog on the interior, and one of the Wolves’ only chances at stopping Nikola Jokic. He’s also an emotional leader for the team and a veteran of these situations. More than anyone else on the floor Taj has extensive playoff experience (which this game basically is).
Another worry is how tough the Nuggets have been lately. Their backs were to the wall just a couple of weeks ago. Many left them out of the playoff picture after consecutive losses put them in 10th place and a slate of tough games ahead. Instead of succumbing to pressure, the Nuggets went on to win six games in a row. Without this late push they wouldn’t find themselves in this position.
The pressure is on for both sides and the intensity should be through the roof. The Wolves are looking to break a 13-year drought, while the Nuggets are on their fifth consecutive season out of the playoffs. Both teams were built to be among the top eight in the West and it won’t be fair for one side, but what’s sports without some adversity?
Should the Timberwolves pull off the victory and celebrate, they could climb to as high as sixth with some help, or stick in eighth. The most likely outcome for tomorrow, based on the odds on favorites, would saddle the Wolves into the eighth seed. The Wolves can only jump to sixth if the Grizzlies beat the Thunder and the Spurs beat the Pelicans.
A more reasonable outcome would be to hope for a Spurs victory and expect a Thunder win. The Wolves would clinch the seventh seed and face the Warriors in the first round. It’s a daunting task, but without Stephen Curry they have sputtered of late.
So as the Wolves and Nuggets are battling, keep an eye on the Spurs-Pelicans and Thunder-Grizzlies contests. Each game starts at the same time (all somehow just locally televised) so resolution for the playoff picture should be swift, at least for the bottom teams. The other major battle is for third place in the West between Utah and Portland. That one doesn’t start until later in the night, though.
Jeff Teague – PG
Jimmy Butler – SG
Andrew Wiggins – SF
Taj Gibson – PF
Karl-Anthony Towns – C
Jamal Murray – PG
Will Barton – SG
Wilson Chandler – SF
Nikola Jokic – PF
Paul Millsap – C
Taj Gibson (neck) – QUESTIONABLE
Tyler Lydon (knee) – OUT
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
When: 8:00 ET/7:00 CT
How: Fox Sports North+
April 25, 2019, 11:00 pmJakob Poeltl - C - San Antonio Spurs
Jakob Poeltl shot 4-for-6 from the field for eight points with nine boards, two assists and one block in 28 minutes for a 120-103 win over the Nuggets in Game 6 on Thursday.
Poeltl was not able to shut down Nikola Jokic (43 points) but it didn't matter, as the Spurs shot 57.1 percent from the field to blow out the Nuggets. The Spurs will head to Denver for a winner-take-all affair in Game 7 on Saturday.
April 25, 2019, 10:54 pmGary Harris - G - Denver Nuggets
Gary Harris scored 14 points in Game 6 against the Spurs on Thursday night as the Nuggets fell 120-103.
Harris scored a few points in this one but didn't do a whole lot else. The Nuggets will probably need him to have more of a visible imprint on the game to make major noise.
April 25, 2019, 10:53 pmDerrick White - G - San Antonio Spurs
Derrick White shot 4-for-7 from the floor for 13 points with one rebound, two assists, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 27 minutes against the Nuggets on Thursday.
White wasn't particularly effective on the stat sheet in Game 6, but his grit and solid defense helped the Spurs secure a win on their home floor. He limited his turnovers to just one in this game. White will need to stay efficient in a decisive Game 7 on Saturday in Denver.
April 25, 2019, 10:49 pmPaul Millsap - F - Denver Nuggets
Paul Millsap was almost a non-factor on Thursday night scoring just 12 points and adding four boards in heavy minutes.
Millsap has to be better for this team to make any major noise deep in the playoffs. He just hasn't been back to his normal self for long stretches this year, so here's to hoping he can find form.
April 25, 2019, 10:49 pmRudy Gay - F - San Antonio Spurs
Rudy Gay shot 7-for-11 for 19 points with four boards, two assists, two blocks and three 3-pointers in 28 minutes against the Nuggets on Thursday.
After being a non-factor for much of the series, Gay played extra efficient as a savvy veteran on Thursday night. He led the bench in scoring and helped set the tone to force a Game 7. Gay will need another game like this if the Spurs want any chance of surviving in Denver.
April 25, 2019, 10:43 pmDeMar DeRozan - G - San Antonio Spurs
DeMar DeRozan shot 12-for-16 from the field for 25 points with seven assists and seven boards in 36 minutes to force a Game 7 against the Nuggets on Thursday.
DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge (26 points and 10 rebounds) took it to the Nuggets for their final home game of the opening round. For a team not making much noise in the regular season, all eyes will be on the Spurs and Nuggets Game 7 on Saturday. Never count out Pop and the Spurs.
April 25, 2019, 10:42 pmJamal Murray - G - Denver Nuggets
Jamal Murray scored just 16 points (7-of-19 from the floor) on Thursday in the Game 6 loss to the Spurs.
Murray was quiet in this one as the Nuggets tried to close it out. He did manage six assists but Nikola Jokic is going to need some help from his supporting cast to cement a date with Portland.
April 25, 2019, 10:37 pmNikola Jokic - C - Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic scored a career-high 43 points and approached a triple-double with 12 rebounds and nine assists in Thursday's Game 6 loss.
It was a waste of a great performance from Jokic as the Nuggets couldn't close out the Spurs in Game 6. Home cookin' might be just what the doctor ordered.
April 25, 2019, 10:34 pmLaMarcus Aldridge - F - San Antonio Spurs
LaMarcus Aldridge shot 10-for-18 from the field for 26 points with 10 boards, five assists, one block and one 3-pointer in 37 minutes to avoid elimination against the Nuggets on Thursday.
Aldridge was terrific all night, using home court advantage to play with energy. He took matters into his own hands, forcing a Game 7 on Saturday in Denver. Expect Aldridge to be giving his best effort on a winner-take-all affair.
April 25, 2019, 5:58 pmJeff Hornacek - Team - New York Knicks
The Kings have interviewed Jeff Hornacek for an assistant coach position.
The Kings have already hired their head coach, Luke Walton. However, with Walton's status up in the air with the recent allegations made against him, the Kings would do well to hire an assistant with head coaching experience. Hornacek last coached for the Knicks before being fired at the end of the 2017-2018 season. His overall record as head coach for the Knicks and the Suns is 161-216.
Source: James Ham on Twitter