Anthony Edwards outplays Nikola Jokic as Wolves take Game 1

DENVER — If you asked another young star how to walk into the building of the defending champs and score 43 points in a 106-99 Game 1 win to advance to the second round, he might call it that. A reported performance.

If he really felt himself, he might say that the Minnesota Timberwolves’ stealing home court from the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night represented a seismic shift in the balance of power in the Western Conference.

However, Anthony Edwards is like no other young star today. He won’t be like any other young star in league history.

When asked about Minnesota playing past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in two decades, Edwards said, “It’s not about introducing ourselves to anybody. We know who we are.” “We come out and as long as we have each other’s backs, it doesn’t matter what other people think.”

Edwards joked that he wouldn’t have been born in 2004 when Kevin Garnett and the Wolves defeated the Sacramento Kings in the second round to make the only conference finals appearance in franchise history.

Regardless of the Wolves’ past woes in the postseason, the current team is having a moment. Edwards is now 5-0 in the playoffs, including a sweep of the Phoenix Suns in the first round, tying Kobe Bryant for consecutive 40-point performances in NBA postseason history, according to ESPN. Statistics and Information Research.

Edwards’ 119 points over his last three playoff games are the most by a Wolves player in a three-game span in team postseason history. In Nikola Jokic, he did just that on Saturday by outdoing the reigning NBA Finals MVP and a top-three finalist for this year’s regular-season MVP.

“Honestly, he’s a special player, I have a lot of respect for him, he can do everything on the floor,” Jokic said of Edwards. “You have to give him respect, how good he is, how talented he is.”

Jokic finished with 32 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds and 3 steals, but he shot 11-of-25 from the field (2-of-9 from 3) and coughed up a game-high 7 turnovers. When asked how he could fare against the Wolves’ three-headed front line of Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert and Nas Reed in Game 2, Jokic joked, “I should have a clone of myself.”

Edwards, meanwhile, went 17-for-29 with 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks and just 1 turnover. Even more notable, he shot 7-of-10 on hotly contested jump shots in Game 1, according to the second spectrum. This postseason, he shot 53% on heavily contested jumpers, best in the NBA.

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Despite the disparity in production between the two stars, Edwards still deferred to his opponent, while giving credit to his teammates for the result.

“It’s always fun to go against the best player in the world, it’s always fun to go against the best team in the world,” Edwards said. “Our guys came out and competed tonight. So, it’s not about me personally, it’s about my team. They also give me confidence.”

Edwards went 5-for-5 from the field during the Wolves’ 18-4 run in the first seven minutes of the first quarter. The Nuggets fought back to take a 44-40 lead into halftime, holding every Minnesota player except Edwards to 6-of-27 shooting (22.2%). The Wolves trailed in the third, with Edwards saying he was “doing nothing” and “running up and down” while Towns went 5-for-5 to score 11 of his 20 points and Mike Conley went 4. -4 for 11 of his 14 marks.

The fourth belongs to Edwards, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year, and Reid. Edwards was held scoreless in the fourth quarter in both of the Wolves’ regular-season losses to Denver. Reid scored 14 of 16 in the fourth — including 10 straight for the Wolves — to seal it.

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“For a guy like me, who’s seen him grow from day one to where he is now, I think he’s a superstar if he’s not. [already] Now,” Reed said of Edwards. “He’s an amazing player and an amazing person off the court. … He’s a guy you want to be around.”

And Minnesota plans to stick around in the playoffs for a little while longer, as evidenced by the “11” written in big black numbers on a whiteboard in the visitors’ locker room at Ball Arena after the game. That represents the number of wins the Wolves need to capture the first championship in team history this spring.

“He’s growing every day, he’s maturing every night,” Gobert said of Edwards. “So it’s fun to be a part of.”

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