Timberwolves stellar defense must remain locked-in to extend the winning streak

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels defends Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels defends Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a dominant defensive performance in a resounding Game 2 win, the Minnesota Timberwolves can take a commanding 3-0 lead over the defending champion Denver Nuggets in Game 3 at the Target Center on Friday night.

Despite being without NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert on Monday evening, Minnesota held Denver to a season-low in points scored and just 34.9 percent shooting from the field en route to a 106-80 victory in Game 2.

The Timberwolves' defense has been incredibly intense, physical, and relentless throughout the playoffs and it’s clearly taking a toll on Nuggets star duo Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, who combined for only 24 points in the recent loss.

Jokic doesn’t get sped up often but Minnesota has managed to make it difficult for him to find a rhythm this series, while Murray started to unravel after seemingly getting frustrated with the aggressiveness and physicality of Wolves' defense.

It was a masterful defensive effort that was highlighted by an 11-0 run to start the second quarter as the Timberwolves racked up 12 steals, 11 blocks, and an impressive 90.6 defensive rating against one of the NBA’s highest-rated offenses.

Minnesota will look to maintain the same defensive intensity in Game 3 as Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker continue to hound Denver’s ball handlers, while Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Naz Reid hold down the interior.

The Timberwolves' elite perimeter defenders have forced the Nuggets into extreme discomfort when attempting to set up their offense. It should continue as both teams head to Minneapolis for a monumental and rowdy matchup in Game 3 this week.

Denver is likely going to come out energized and focused in a must-win game so it's imperative the Timberwolves must remain locked in on both ends of the floor. Up 2-0, there's a chance to grab a stronghold on the series and an opportunity to stay undefeated in the playoffs.