Home Sports The arrival of Anthony Edwards should have the Nuggets, and the entire league, on high alert.

The arrival of Anthony Edwards should have the Nuggets, and the entire league, on high alert.

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Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards reacts after scoring a basket in the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets, Saturday, May 4, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER – Who knows if this is the moment for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who refuse to acknowledge the generational trauma they are breaking with every playoff victory, with every devastating run they put on more established names.

But what we do know is that Anthony Edwards’ moment could be coming much faster than even the most optimistic could have predicted.

And that should have the champion Denver Nuggets on high alert, if not headed toward outright concern. Edwards had a diet of capable defenders in his face and sent them the other way with looks of bewilderment, frustration and helplessness.

Edwards’ career-high 43 points in the playoffs led the Timberwolves to a somewhat shocking victory in Game 1 at Ball Arena on Saturday, 106-99. Usually when the champion loses a home opener in a playoff series, the word “steal” comes into play, but it didn’t look like the Timberwolves stole Game 1.

They made an announcement to the NBA world that has not yet fully accepted them: that they are not coming, but they are here. And holding the megaphone was the budding superstar who made sure to let the world know that she is 22 years old, not 23.

“I’m 22 years old,” Edwards said, correcting teammate Mike Conley on the podium when Conley referenced Edwards’ maturity on the court and his trust in his teammates, saying he’s “22, 23 years old.” .

Edwards was made for this moment, even though this is a second-round series and not the Western Conference finals. But for all intents and purposes, it might as well be. It’s the glamor series of the NBA’s second round, and his stature will grow even more in the coming weeks, assuming nights like Saturday’s continue.

There will be a segment of people upset that the usual suspects aren’t taking the stage as the playoffs progress, but the kid with the bright smile and a brighter future is right in front of the world’s eyes, waiting for everyone to take notice.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards reacts after scoring a basket in the first half of Game 1 against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, May 4, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

“We just went out to play. It’s not about introducing ourselves to anyone, we know what we are,” Edwards said. “We are a collective group. “We trust each other, we are well trained.”

“We’re locked in,” Conley added.

Edwards might as well have turned out the lights in the building with his fourth-quarter baskets, half ridiculous quickness and athleticism, half fundamental point guard who looks so much like players of his lineage.

Mix that in, and you have a clear and present danger for the champions, who lost their first playoff game at home since Game 2 of last year’s Finals against the Miami Heat.

The Timberwolves have been preparing to play this team this season and seem more than up to the challenge.

“I think it’s about us. You know, obviously, we really believe that Denver is one of the best teams in this league, but we know that we believe in our abilities,” said Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert, one of three tasked with defending the probable Most Player. Valuable, Nikola. Jokić.

Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid also share the responsibility and, for one game at least, the strategy seemed to work. Jokić scored 32 points with 9 assists and 8 rebounds, but took 25 shots, the most he has taken in a playoff game this year.

“I can have a duplicate clone of myself,” Jokić said, ironically, about how best to deal with the big three. “That way, when one of them enters the game, I can have a new version.”

Edwards saw the same number of defenders. From lanky veteran Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, one of the league’s best, to Aaron Gordon, a bigger, stronger defender, and reserves Christian Braun and Justin Holiday.

Each required a different plan of attack and Edwards seemed to execute the scouting report to perfection. It takes a special talent to pace a team that initially couldn’t shoot properly, with Edwards scoring 15 in the first quarter, keeping his teammates involved and not forcing his own offense.

Those are lessons that some greats didn’t learn until deep in their careers, if at all. But Edwards has a way of reading the game that keeps him in attack mode but also making sophisticated reads to get away from the ball.

“These guys are going to make shots. Everybody’s going to miss shots, I don’t make all my shots,” Edwards said. “If they’re open, I’ll stop by every time.”

Like all special ones, he knows it will come back to him. She knows that the game, at some point, will be in her hands.

Edwards attacked the night like Kendrick Lamar did against an outmatched opponent, repeatedly crushing the Nuggets’ threats with adult plays, never once feeling like the game was too big for him. While it seems like the Nuggets’ biggest rival is the Lakers, it’s the Timberwolves who gave them their toughest competition last spring, despite it being a five-game first-round series.

“I lost to these guys last year, they’re the defending champions,” Edwards said. “The best player in the league, Nikola Jokić. To me, they have the best closer in Jamal Murray.”

Edwards could challenge Murray for that title soon, especially if Murray continues to limp from that calf injury he suffered against the Lakers in Round 1. Even with the long days of rest, he didn’t look like himself, shooting 6-for-14 , which led to Jokić having more control of the offense.

And Murray had to deal with a quick-as-a-cat guard who chased him for much of the night. That’s right, Edwards had no problem taking over Murray’s assignment from the start, and while that seems like a lot of energy expended on both ends of the floor, it leaves plenty of room for teammates like Towns and Conley to exploit their clashes. , and still having to be accounted for by Denver’s defense when he doesn’t have the ball.

Towns overcame a slow start to rally in the third quarter, when Edwards wasn’t as assertive as he was in the first half when he scored 25. Then in the fourth, Reid scored 14 of his 16 points, with two 3-pointers. he plays courtesy of Edwards’ passing.

That’s the danger the Nuggets find themselves in, no matter how early it is. The champions will be heard, but Edwards and the Timberwolves will be there, waiting for the next shot, ready to deliver their own counterpunch.

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