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NBA playoffs: Timberwolves put Nuggets on notice with Game 1 win sparked by Anthony Edwards’ heroics

May 5th, 2024

Anthony Edwards punched the Denver Nuggets in the mouth on Saturday.

The Nuggets punched back, but Naz Reid delivered the knockout blow in a 106-99 Minnesota Timberwolves win over the Nuggets in Game 1 of their second-playoff series.

Billed as the continued coming-out party for one of the game’s brightest young stars against the reigning champs, Saturday’s contest lived up to the hype. Each team took its turn in the driver’s seat before the Timberwolves ultimately prevailed in a tense win on the road to put the Nuggets on notice.

Edwards scored 16 first-quarter points including 13 of Minnesota’s first 18 as the Timberwolves jumped out to an 18-4 lead. The Nuggets answered with a 21-5 run to close out the first quarter with a 25-23 lead.

From there it was a slugfest until a late Minnesota run sparked by the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year. Reid scored 10 straight Timberwolves points in the fourth quarter including a pair of 3 pointers to put the Timberwolves on top, 94-88.

The Nuggets never recovered as Minnesota held on down the stretch to stun the champion Nuggets in their own building. The loss marks the first time since 2022 that the Nuggets have trailed in a playoff series. They never faced a series deficit in their run to the title last year.

Edwards finished with 43 points, marking his third straight playoff game with 35 or more points. He added seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. He did his scoring from inside and out while shooting 17 of 29 from the field and 3 of 7 from 3-point distance. Denver had no answer on defense.

Outside of a 15-point effort in Game 2 against the Phoenix Suns, Edwards has now scored 33 or more points in four of Minnesota’s five playoff games this postseason. The Timberwolves improve to 5-0 in the playoffs after a first-round sweep of the Suns. Saturday’s 43-point effort marked a new career playoff high for Edwards.

The spotlight belonged to Edwards from the opening tip. He started the scoring with a contested 3 from the right wing with Denver’s top perimeter stopper Kentavious Caldwell Pope in tight coverage.

Moments later, his and-1 floater in traffic increased the Minnesota lead to 9-0, and the Nuggets were in trouble early.

But the Nuggets composed themselves to take a two-point lead at the first-quarter break thanks to nine points each from Nikola Jokić and Michael Porter Jr. Despite the first scoreless playoff half of Jamal Murray‘s career, Denver took a 44-40 lead into the break.

Minnesota’s league-best defense slowed the Denver attack, but the Nuggets held Timberwolves players not named Edwards in check through the first half. Edwards tallied 25 of Minnesota’s 40 first-half points as the Timberwolves shot 36.3% from the field. He got help in the second half while continuing to to plenty of damage of his own.

Edwards set the one on defense early in the quarter with a block of Porter that led to a transition and-1 dunk from Karl-Anthony Towns.

The play helped spark a scorching 33-point third quarter where Minnesota connected on 14 of its 19 field goal attempts to take a 73-71 lead into the fourth.

From there, the game saw 10 combined ties and lead changes before Reid’s mid-quarter run put Minnesota in control. With the game tied at 84-84 and the shot clock expiring, Reid launched a desperation 3 from the right wing. It bounced off the glass and in.

On Minnesota’s next possession, he beat Jokić to a rebound and put back an Edwards miss from 3 with a one-handed slam. On the next Timberwolves possession, he beat Jokić for an and-1 layup.

He missed the free throw, but followed up with another 3 for his 10th straight Timberwolves point to put Minnesota up 94-88 with 4:20 remaining. Denver got as close as 94-91 from there, but never retook the lead.

This story will be updated.

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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