Timberwolves' stifling defense compared to Bad Boy era Pistons
Denver Nuggets forward Peyton Watson (8) controls the ball as Minnesota Timberwolves center Naz Reid (11) guards in the second quarter during Game 2 of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs. Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Timberwolves' stifling defense compared to Bad Boy era Pistons

The Timberwolves have clamped down on the Nuggets in their ongoing playoff series, holding the defending champions to sub-40 percent shooting through the first two games. 

Denver's otherwise free-flowing offense has been held to an offensive rating of 99.2, nearly a 10-point drop from its 108.6 rating against the Lakers in the first round and an 18.6-point drop from its regular-season mark of 117.8.

Before running into Minnesota's buzzsaw, the Nuggets were held to under 100 points thrice in their last 25 playoff games. 

They've yet to crack the 100 mark through two games. 

Minnesota's stifling defense has led to Nikola Jokic committing uncharacteristic turnovers, a usually poised Jamal Murray throwing a fit by flinging heating pads and towels onto the court and head coach Michael Malone storming the court and arguing with the refs.

That's what a suffocating defense can do to even the best of them.

Lest we forget, Michael Jordan was held to sub-35 percent shooting four times when he played against the Pistons in their Eastern Conference Finals matchups in 1989 and 1990.

Similarly, the Celtics held LeBron James to sub-25 percent shooting thrice during their playoff battles in 2008 and 2010. 

While watching the Timberwolves do similar things to Jokic and Co. on Monday, veteran analyst David Aldridge couldn't help but compare them to arguably the greatest defensive unit in NBA history.

Aldridge's tweet wasn't very prophetic as the Nuggets failed to "keep their composure" and dug themselves a 2-0 hole.

To their credit, the Timberwolves — a team built with long wing defenders and a couple of seven-footers in the middle —  have taken advantage of the leniency afforded by the referees, who typically swallow their calls and encourage physicality in the postseason. 

And there's no reason to believe the physicality ceases to exist when the series shifts to Minnesota for Game 3. 

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