ROUND UP

Nikola Jokic goes nuclear, Nuggets run Wolves in Game 5

May 14, 2024, 11:06 PM

DENVER—It was a night started in celebration of Nikola Jokic’s third NBA MVP and the Denver Nuggets superstar center nearly ended the Minnesota Timberwolves season in Game 5.

The Mile High City crew took the pivotal Game 5 112-97, to go up 3-2 in the second-round series. Jokic led the way for the Nuggets, toasting the league’s top-ranked defense for 40 points and 13 assists on 15-of-22 shooting. Jokic particularly had it out again for four-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. Some of the Serbian’s best career moments have come against the Frenchman, and while he may not of ‘brother, I have 47’-d him, Jokic gave his squad two chances to close out the upstart Wolves.

The game was a cage match in the first half, never separating by more than four points either way until the later stages when the Nuggets took a seven-point lead just before the break. The Wolves offense was very much slowed by the absence of Mike Conley, who was a day of scratch due to an Achilles injury. And Anthony Edwards couldn’t pick up the slack, scoring just five in the first half and 18 on the game.

Jamal Murray too was quiet, only scoring five points in the first half. He only ended up with 16 points on the game, as Jokic stole the show. The MV3’s biggest help came from a hustling and athletic Aaron Gordon, who added 18 points and 10 rebounds and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who put up four threes.

The second half started with the Wolves taking a quick lead in the via an 11-3 run but Denver punched again on an 11-2 run to retake their seven-point lead a few minutes later. It was all Jokic, who scored or assisted on 10 of the Nuggets 13 baskets in the third. It’s then that Denver’s hand really showed, relentlessly attacking Gobert, and make Naz Reid and Kyle Anderson unplayable. Nikola and the Nuggets awesome quarter put them up by 18 eventually as the Wolves wilted.

The Wolves need to defend home court in a close out game on Thursday and force a Game 7 on Sunday where they’ll have to score a third road playoff win in Denver. Can they do it? History is now on the Nuggets side.

The lone team in NBA history to drop their first two games at home in a series and then win four straight to close out in Game 6 is the 2017 Boston Celtics in the first round. Teams that went down 2-0 at home and go up 3-2 by winning Game 5 are 3-0 all-time in series in league history. Teams up 3-2 are 199-35 across the board, an 85% win chance, up from the 15% chance Denver had when they fell down the first two games.

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