The Minnesota Timberwolves had a day off while the Denver Nuggets played Sunday night at home before traveling to Minneapolis for a Monday night matchup.
That might give the struggling Timberwolves an edge against the Northwest Division co-leaders. Minnesota could use any advantage it can get intrying to stop a five-game losing streak.
Minnesota is coming off a 10-point loss at home to the reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors on Saturday night in a game where Karl-Anthony Towns was held to 12 points. It was just the second game back after missing 15 for the center, and he's still trying to work his way back to form.
He'll need to be sharp against Denver's All-Star center Nikola Jokic, who leads the team in points, rebounds and assists. He had 30 points and 10 rebounds in a 115-107 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night, which snapped the Nuggets' three-game winning streak.
Denver has needed his effort with three starters missing multiple games. Jamal Murray (ankle) has missed the last two, Paul Millsap (left knee contusion) has been out for six games and Gary Harris (adductor strain) has missed three.
Coach Michael Malone has relied on his depth to weather the injury bug and his reserves have responded, most notably rookie Michael Porter Jr. The 6-foot-10 forward has seen his minutes increase and came into Sunday averaging 16.7 points in his previous three games and finished with 10 points and eight rebounds against the Pacers.
Porter has prepared knowing he's going to see more court time.
"I know I'll be playing a lot, and I know they will be calling on me to score some and play-make some," Porter told reporters Saturday. "I've just got to be ready for every single game."
Malik Beasley and PJ Dozier have also pitched in for Denver.
"We're finding ways with a young group, and with guys who are improving, and stepping up in big situations," Malone said. "I like where we're at. The challenge is if we can continue to play at the level we're playing at with the schedule we have ahead of us."
Minnesota will likely be without its newest player, Allen Crabbe, on Monday. Crabbe, who was acquired from Atlanta for Jeff Teague and Treveon Graham on Thursday, was out with an illness against Toronto and is not expected to play against Denver.
The Timberwolves might not be done dealing before the trade deadline, with Robert Covington's name being floated often in rumors. Covington said he isn't thinking about a possible move.
"I'm not even focused on that," Covington told the Star-Tribune recently. "My main focus is this team and what I do every day. I'm not going to get caught up in rumors or hype or whatnot. I'm a Minnesota Timberwolf. That's all my focus is."
In Towns' absence, the Timberwolves relied heavily on forward Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins had his first career triple-double -- 18 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds -- against the Raptors.
"It's always been a goal of mine," Wiggins said after the loss. "So to get it done? Hopefully there are more to come now."
--Field Level Media