The Denver Nuggets, N.1 in the West, are only one victory away from the conference semi-finals after their third straight success against Minnesota (120-111), Friday in the NBA, during an evening which saw the New York Knicks take the lead over Cleveland.
In the third meeting of the day, Atlanta revived the suspense a little by winning on its floor against the Boston Celtics (130-122), which allows the Hawks to come back to 1-2 after the two inaugural defeats in Massachusetts .
The suspense on the other hand withers in the confrontation a priori the most unbalanced between Denver and Minnesota, the seeded N.8.
After two net losses in Colorado, Rudy Gobert’s Wolves (18 pts, 10 rebounds) failed to reverse the trend at home, losing 120-111.
Unsurprisingly there too, the double MVP of the Nuggets, Nikola Jokic contributed to the misfortunes of the Minneapolis franchise by achieving a triple-double (20 pts, 11 rebounds, 12 assists), the 7th of his career in the final phase.
Anthony Edwards (36 pts), Karl-Anthony Towns (27) and their teammates were not unworthy – the gap was still only six points at the start of the last quarter -, but Denver was also able to count on his collective, with six players at least 10 points (including Michael Porter Jr at 25 points), especially at the end of the game, when Jokic was limited by faults.
What can Minnesota still hope for before the 4th meeting on Sunday? In the history of the play-offs, no team has so far managed to come back from a 0-3. But Nikola Jokic warned: “We know that they will be even more aggressive in two days. So we will have to keep our calm”.
– The Knicks defense at the top –
In the East, the Knicks are not in a position as comfortable as Denver, but the New Yorkers took an advantage over Cleveland by winning in a heated Madison Square Garden (99-79), thanks to their defense which is managed to extinguish Darius Garland (only 10 pts).
The gap peaked at 27 points and, although Donovan Mitchell scored 22, the Cavaliers are the first team not to break the 80 mark this season. To make their night even more painful, Garland sprained her left ankle stepping on a photographer’s foot during the second half…
The two franchises will also meet on Sunday and, again in front of their home crowd, the Knicks will have the opportunity to widen the gap.
– Atlanta rebounds against the C’s –
In Georgia, the Celtics missed this opportunity by going through their second quarter (30-41).
In the hard during the first two meetings, the leader of the Hawks Trae Young this time responded (32 pts, 9 assists).
“The whole team produced play (…). It’s not just about scoring, but also sometimes getting everyone on board,” commented Young, who against the vice-champions also made two important counterattacks.
Among the C’s, Jayson Tatum was there (29 pts) but his 10 rebounds were not enough to prevent Atlanta from largely dominating in this area.
“It’s just a matter of will, and they wanted more tonight,” said teammate Marcus Smart (24 pts, 8 assists).
One minute from the buzzer, Tatum had a final chance to tie the two teams, but failed to hit three points.
The Celtics star immediately made an appointment for Game 4 on Sunday. “I have to play better… This one is for me,” he said.