Wolves ready for Nuggets 'great challenge': Gobert

<a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Minnesota;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Minnesota</a>'s <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Rudy Gobert;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Rudy Gobert</a> (right) is ready for another duel against <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Denver;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Denver</a>'s <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Nikola Jokic;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Nikola Jokic</a> (left) in their NBA playoff series starting on Saturday (MATTHEW STOCKMAN)

The Minnesota Timberwolves are gearing up for a battle royale against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday when they take on the NBA champions in their first second-round playoff series in 20 years.

The third-seeded Timberwolves travel to Colorado for game one brimming with confidence after an impressive 4-0 series sweep over star-studded Phoenix in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

That series victory marked the first time since the 2003-2004 season that the T-Wolves have successfully navigated the first hurdle of the post-season.

Minnesota's defensive talisman Rudy Gobert says Denver, however, will present a different test altogether.

"It's a great challenge for us," Gobert told AFP in an interview. "They are the reigning champions and it's not by chance. It's a very big team that knows how to play very well together, which is very well coached, with a real identity."

Gobert said the Timberwolves are plotting strategies to cope with the Nuggets' two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic, who is favored by many to win the honor for a third time this season.

"Jokic is soon to be the triple MVP and it is deserved," Gobert said.

"He represents a big individual and collective challenge. We will try to make him work as much as possible, to make his life as difficult as possible."

Gobert, one of the three finalists for the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award, believes Minnesota possess the size and physicality to contain Denver.

"We are lucky to have a team that has a lot of size, it's one of our strengths, and we will be able to adapt in several different ways," he said.

Gobert, meanwhile, said Minnesota's offense led by Anthony Edwards, the 2020 No.1 NBA Draft pick, could also pose problems for Denver, 4-1 victors over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.

Gobert said the 22-year-old Edwards had taken his game to a new level this season.

"This year, he has reached new milestones again," Gobert told AFP. "In his reading of the game, his consistency, his defense. Of course his talent is extraordinary, whether it is what he can do with the ball or his athletic abilities, that already makes him one of the best players in this league. I think he really has the potential to be up there and take a team up there.

"It's crazy to think he's only 22-years old. He already has a certain maturity."