La Velle E. Neal III
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This is what it looks like when an eighth seed — or tenth seed or whatever low seed you believe the Timberwolves are — goes up against a top seed.

This is what it looks like when a team fueled by an MVP like Nikola Jokic is playing like it aspires to hoist a Larry O'Brien trophy.

This is what it looks like when a Wolves team that has failed to find cohesion with its two-big-men lineup steps into the ring with a heavyweight.

The Wolves on Sunday night were chewed up and spat out by the Nuggets in a 109-80 drubbing that immediately looks like a series that will be over in four games.

After beating Oklahoma City on Friday in a win-or-go-home scenario, it looks like the Wolves merely delayed their offseason vacations by a few days.

The Wolves team that ran out of gas in the fourth quarter of their first play-in game against the Lakers looked like that for four quarters on Sunday against Denver. They were a step slow all night, were beat down the floor, allowed drives down Main Street, and couldn't hit shots when given open looks.

Was anything else expected from this disjointed, punching group of hoopers? Denver had the advantage in every category and had the luxury of being able to rest for seven days to practice, heal up and come out fresh.

The Wolves played most of the season without Karl-Anthony Towns, who was sidelined with a calf injury. They didn't have time to find the sweet spot where Towns and Rudy Gobert could become a two-headed monster and torment opponents. The Wolves had to claw their way into the playoffs. They dealt with infighting. They lost their best defensive player in Jaden McDaniels when he fought a wall, and the wall won. Their big man, Gobert, has a sore back.

They played in two play-in games, including Friday's win over Oklahoma City. Then they had a relatively quick turnaround to face the Nuggets. In Denver. At altitude, They entered this series as the underdogs (underWolves?). The circumstances leading to Sunday made the outcome predictable.

So coughing up just 14 points in the third quarter and getting run out of the gym by 29 really isn't surprising. Jokic drop-stepping, dribbling behind his back and setting up teammates with deft passing isn't startling,

After the game, Towns talked about flushing Game 1 away and coming into Wednesday's Game 2 was needed. He is correct. In the playoffs, being able to shake off losses, by 9 or 29, is a necessity, But Sunday's game also was a reality check as to how far the Wolves are behind the Nuggets. They already are down McDaniels, key reserve Naz Reid and have a hobbled Gobert. Good teams can shake off bad losses. Having veterans like Gobert and point guard Mike Conley should provide the guidance needed to move forward and put Sunday's thrashing behind them.

Wolves coach Chris Finch has tried to use his bench more to not run his key players into the ground, It didn't matter if starters or reserves were on the floor on Sunday. They looked uncompetitive.

Former Wolves coach Flip Saunders once called timeout two minutes into a game to lambaste his team for not competing. In addition to getting plenty of rest over the next two days, the Wolves need to be committed to being competitive, not getting beat down the court. They need more from Towns — he simply has to get back on defense and switch effectively.

This was going to be a pack-a-lunch series against a team with championship dreams and a player like Jokic, who doesn't have to drop 30 points on them to win games. But it requires the Wolves to be focused, defensively sound and take care of the ball.

This series couldn't have started any worse for them, but there is time to recover and show that Denver is not going to stroll into the second round of the postseason so easily. How they respond in Game 2 will reveal the character of a team that entered the postseason like the title of a Prince album, full of Chaos and Disorder.