NBA Playoffs: Edwards Score 43 in Timberwolves 106-99 Win Over Nuggets

Anthony Edwards scored a playoff career-high 43 points as the Timberwolves topped the Nuggets 106-99 in Game 1 of the second-round series Saturday night. The defending champions had no answer for the 22-year old Edwards, with the youngster seemingly scoring at will and finding his teammates whenever needed. 

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards
Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo

Edwards got help from Naz Reid in the fourth quarter, who scored 14 of his 16 points in the final frame. Karl Anthony Towns had 20 points on 8-13 shooting, despite getting into foul trouble early on in the game. Jaden McDaniels had a poor night offensively, going 0-7 from the field and not scoring in his 39 minutes.

For the Nuggets, Nikola Jokic once again led the way, dropping 32 points to go with 8 rebounds and 9 assists. Even though he ended with solid numbers, he didn’t have the same effect as he did in Denver’s first-round matchup against the Lakers, going 2-9 from three-point land and giving up 7 turnovers. Rudy Gobert was instrumental in slowing down Jokic, making his life difficult with his long arms and big frame.

Jamal Murray had a subpar outing, only managing 17 points on 6-14 shooting and Michael Porter Jr contributed with a quick-fire 20. The news for the Nuggets was that they shot a respectable 46.7% from the field and 41.9% from beyond the arc. The big difference came in rebounding where the Timberwolves outrebounded the Nuggets 42 to 35.

Three days after undergoing knee surgery, Timberwolves coach Chris Finch was on the bench behind assistant coach Micah Nori, who did most of the instructing. Finch had ruptured the patellar in his right knee last week when Wolves point guard Mike Conley collided with him late at a Timberwolves’ Round 1 game at Phoenix. It seems the Nuggets are comfortable for Finch to take a step back and allow Nori to run the team until he’s healthy again.

Game 2 will be a must win for the Nuggets as they have now given up home court advantage to Minnesota. Denver will likely have to make some adjustments on Edwards, possibly bringing in a double-team earlier in the game to curb his scoring. 

The Timberwolves on the other hand seem happy to make Jokic into a scorer if they can keep him from getting his teammates involved. Gobert matches up as well as anyone in the league against Jokic with his length and big body frame.

Game Summary

The Wolves are known for being a slow-starting team but they opened well against Denver in Game 1. They jumped out to a 18-4 lead to begin with, putting the Nuggets on the backfoot from the very beginning. 

The Nuggets however were able to recover and even take the lead by the end of the first quarter, 25-23. They then amped up on the defensive end, restricting Minnesota to just 17 points in the second quarter to take a four point lead into the half. Of the 40 points scored by the Timberwolves in the first half, 25 came from Edwards.

Minnesota’s offense finally got out of first gear after the break, as they ended shooting a blistering 71.1% from the floor in the second half. 

Jokic was held in check with some good one-on-one defense and good spacing and rotation. Despite putting up good numbers, he wasn’t as effective as he normally is, turning more into a scorer than a playmaker. 

The game was tied at 84 in the fourth quarter when the Timberwolves went on an 18-7 run to break the game open. Reid had 10 straight points during this stretch, getting a number of open looks with Edwards drawing double-teams. 

With the lead, the Wolves’ held off the Nuggets at the end with the last 6 points being scored by Edwards to put the game on ice. 

Game 2 will be on Monday night in Denver. All the pressure will be on the Nuggets with the Timberwolves already stealing game one and taking home-court back to Minnesota.