NBA

Nuggets focused on historic sweep of Timberwolves

By Sports Desk April 22, 2023

The Denver Nuggets are focusing all of their efforts on completing a series sweep over the Minnesota Timberwolves after taking a 3-0 lead on Friday.

Nikola Jokic inspired Denver to a 120-111 win at Target Center in Minnesota to take a huge step towards the Western Conference semi-finals, where the Phoenix Suns or Los Angeles Clippers will await.

Reigning back-to-back MVP Jokic posted 20 points (nine-of-13), 12 assists and 11 rebounds in a comprehensive effort against three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.

It was the seventh triple-double of Jokic's career and played a major role in the Nuggets opening a huge series lead, which they will now hope to turn into their first playoff sweep in franchise history.

That is certainly the aim, though coach Michael Malone accepts the Timberwolves are not going to make it easy on their return to Target Center in Game 4 on Sunday.

"Up 3-0, our mindset right now is – no disrespect to the T-Wolves because this is about us – but we don't want to go back to Denver," he said.

"We know to close out a series a lot of times can be the hardest game. I'm hoping that we can find a way.

"We don't have a mindset of, 'Hey, we can just go back and close it in Denver.' Our mindset should be to close it in Game 4."

It was put to Jokic afterwards that the Nuggets' performance was impressive in part because they did not "need to win", though this mindset clearly did not resonate with the center.

"That's a funny question. We needed to win, we didn't want to give them life, if that makes sense," Jokic said.

"We wanted to be the aggressor. We wanted to punch them first. They need to react to us. That was our plan. I think we did a good job.

"Of course, we expected them to be aggressive and play really good, they were attacking the paint, attacking, attacking. That was their plan, we kind of knew it."

Denver head into Game 4 3-0 up in a series for only the second time, with the first being the 2009 semi-finals against the Dallas Mavericks.

While they could not clinch the sweep on that occasion, they did manage to get the job done in Game 5.

Malone and Jokic will be hoping to go one better this time.

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