The Denver Nuggets and the Phoenix Suns, considered the ‘powerhouses’ of the NBA Western Conference, pass the first round of the playoffs (PO) with 4 wins and 1 loss side by side and face off in the second round.
Denver, 메이저놀이터who finished the regular league in 1st place (53-29), defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 5 of the 2022-2023 NBA Western Conference PO Round 1 (4 wins out of 7) held at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado, USA on the 26th (Korean time). 112-109.
With this, Denver, who won 4th in the series (1 loss), advanced to the 2nd round, and Minnesota, who finished 8th in the regular league (42-40), ended the season.
Signboard center Nikola Jokic, who was selected as the MVP of the regular season in the last two seasons, recorded a triple-double with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists, giving Denver its fourth win.
Although the field goal success rate fell below 30% at the height of the opponent’s ‘twin tower’ leading to Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, he actively attacked the bottom of the goal by winning as many as 9 offensive rebounds.
Jemal Head also exploded 35 points, including 3 points and 5 rooms, and supported firepower from the outskirts. Aaron Gordon and Bruce Brown also added 14 points each.
In Minnesota, which was eliminated in the first round for the second consecutive season, Anthony Edwards struggled with 29 points. Gobert (15) and Towns (11) also combined for 26 rebounds, but Jokic was pushed out of the offer (rebound 48-53) against Denver.
The game between the two teams was tight at 77-77 until the third quarter.
With the game tied at 102-102 two minutes before the end of the game, Jokic stepped up as a last-minute solver.
Jokic, who scored on a free throw due to Towns’ foul, succeeded in a shot under the net following a layup, drawing out another foul from Towns, and the game was ruined.
Denver’s opponent in the second round is the 4th place (45-37) Phoenix in the regular league, who emerged as a candidate for the championship after Kevin Durant, the ‘scoring machine’, joined in a trade last February.
Phoenix also defeated the 5th place (44-38) Los Angeles Clippers at home, 136-130 after a close match, and confirmed its advance to the second round with a series record of 4-1.
Devin Booker led Phoenix’s attack with 47 points and 10 assists, and Durant also added 31 points, including 3 points and 4 shots.
Center DeAndre Ayton played his part under the goal with 21 points and 11 assists, and ‘Field Commander’ Chris Paul also posted 15 points and 7 assists.
At the Clippers, seven players performed evenly, scoring double-digit points, but could not fill the void left by ace Kawhi Leonard, who left during the series due to a knee injury.
Norman Powell scored 27 points, the most in the team, but one minute before the end of the tense game at 130-132, he made an error while dribbling and scored a fast break leading to Paul-Durant, tilting the game toward Phoenix.
Phoenix, who dropped the Clippers, starts the second round with Denver on the 30th as an away game.
In the East, the 8th place (41-41) Atlanta Hawks revived by holding the 2nd place (57-25) 119-117 thanks to Ace Trae Young’s dramatic 3-pointer.
Atlanta, who won 2 wins (3 losses), took the series to the 6th game.
Young overcame pressure from Boston’s guards, who had a reputation for defense such as Marcus Smart and Derek White, and scored 38 points and 13 assists.
In particular, despite Jaylen Brown’s close defense 2.8 seconds before the end of the game, he scored 3 points that turned the score 119-117 from a distance farther than the existing 3-point line, becoming the first contributor to the ‘Theater Victory’.