Saturday’s NBA playoffs takeaways: Anthony Edwards scores 43 in Game 1 win over Nuggets

Anthony Edwards helped the Minnesota Timberwolves win Game 1 against the defending champion Denver Nuggets on Saturday at Ball Arena.

Edwards scored 43 points in the 106-99 victory. In his 16 career playoff games, he now has three 40-point games. There have been two other such combo games in the franchise’s history (both by Sam Cassell in 2004).

At 22 years and 273 days old, Edwards becomes the second-youngest player in NBA history with 40 consecutive points in the playoffs after scoring 40 against the Phoenix Suns in Game 4 of the first round. Only Kobe Bryant (22 years and 269 days in 2001) did it at a younger age. In this playoff series, Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers won the second of three consecutive titles.

Timberwolves 106, Nuggets 99

Series: Minnesota leads 1-0

Game 2: Monday in Denver

Edwards’ Jordanian performance

Edwards was the best player in a series that included Kevin Durant. He can’t be the best player in a series that includes Nikola Jokić, right? Can he?

In the first game, he was. Edwards scored 43 points, hitting all sorts of Jordanian jumpers down the stretch to give the Timberwolves a 1-0 lead over the defending champions and presumptive MVP. He also grabbed seven rebounds and iced the game with a coast-to-coast drive to the basket in the final seconds to cap a breathtaking performance.

The Timberwolves’ best chance to win this series turned out to be a strength-in-numbers approach. They certainly got other contributions, including 20 points from Karl-Anthony Towns and 16 from Naz Reid, including 14 in the fourth quarter. But Edwards cruised to victory. He made 17 of 29 shots and the Nuggets had no answers for him. If he’s the best player in THIS series, the Timberwolves are in great shape. — Jon Krawczynski, Timberwolves beat writer

The Nuggets need a more balanced scoresheet

Making Jokić and Jamal Murray look mortal has been nearly impossible over the past five years.

But that’s exactly what the Timberwolves did Saturday night. It’s not that Minnesota made Murray and Jokić ineffective. Both have had difficult nights of filming in the past, with the same level of impact. This is because Minnesota has tarnished its global footprint. Both struggled to play throughout the stretch. Both attempted to restart the first game at different points, but were unable to do so. Both tried to don the superhero cape they so often got to wear, and Minnesota wouldn’t let them do it.

Game 2 on Monday needs to be more balanced from the Nuggets. Jokić, Murray and Michael Porter Jr. together scored 69 points. The rest of the Nuggets combined for 30 points. At this level of basketball, that kind of unbalanced offense won’t get you there most nights. Denver is at its best when everyone is involved. Jokić is at his best when he involves everyone. His numbers were good Saturday night, with 32 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. But he had seven turnovers and he shot 11 of 25 from the field, where he is usually more effective.

The Nuggets can force a 1-1 series tie with a win on Monday, then should get at least one in Minneapolis to regain ground in the series. — Tony Jones, NBA Editor-in-Chief

Sunday’s playoff schedule:

  • Magic among the Cavs: 1 p.m. ET, ABC (series tied 3-3)

Required reading

(Photo: Justin Tafoya/NBAE via Getty Images)

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