May 3, 2024 - Sports

Wolves-Nuggets playoffs preview: The future is now in Minnesota

Anthony Edwards holds a basketball while leaning into Nikola Jokic

Anthony Edwards and Nikola Jokić will battle with a trip to the Western Conference finals on the line. Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets dispatched the Timberwolves 4-1 in the first round of last year's playoffs, but beating Minnesota won't be so easy this year.

Why it matters: The Wolves, fresh off their first playoff series win in 20 years, have legitimate title hopes this year.

Yes, but: Their familiar second-round opponent, the reigning champions from the Mile High City, will be as tough as they get. The series kicks off on Saturday.

Between the lines: Unlike last year, when shutdown defender Jaden McDaniels and super sixth man Naz Reid were out with injuries, Minnesota's roster is healthy.

  • The Nuggets, however, are largely the same team, minus wing Bruce Brown, who was a headache for opponents last postseason.

Reality check: Nuggets' big man Nikola Jokić still sits atop the NBA's throne and is likely to win his third MVP.

  • But the Wolves' Anthony Edwards at only 22 has ascended into the league's upper echelon ahead of schedule. These two stars could be battling for years to come.

What they're saying: The FanDuel betting line is -205 for Denver, which implies a 67% probability that the Nuggets win the series.

  • But that says more about the strength of Denver.
  • After Boston and Denver, the Wolves have the best odds at winning a title.

What we're watching: How the Wolves handle Jokić, who can score, pass, and rebound.

  • If the Wolves' twin towers Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert can slow him down, Ant should be able to power the team to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2004.

The intrigue: The Wolves aren't just a hot talker, they're also a hot ticket.

  • Games 3 and 4 at Target Center quickly sold out.
  • Resale tickets won't go on the market until later today, but speculative prices start at $200 for nosebleeds and $400 for lower-level seats.

🍺 Our thought bubble: The Axios Twin Cities team has bet the Axios Denver team a four-pack of local craft beer on the series.

  • When the Wolves win, what kind of beer should we request?
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