Home Sports ‘They beat our ass’: Wolves’ emphatic win over the champs sets up a monster Game 7

‘They beat our ass’: Wolves’ emphatic win over the champs sets up a monster Game 7

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MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – MAY 16: Anthony Edwards #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates against the Denver Nuggets during the fourth quarter of game six of the Western Conference Second Round Playoffs at Target Center on May 16, 2024 in Minneapolis , Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading or using this photograph, the user agrees to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS – A celebratory atmosphere thwarted by a few fleeting moments, a silent crowd at Target Center waited as Anthony Edwards lay face down after falling from a drive to the basket.

“MVP” chants rang out as the former soccer player slowly stood up, grimaced a little, and shortly after took two free throws.

Then he clapped his hands, got into a defensive stance, and continued following Jamal Murray like a defensive back giving a wide receiver a bad day.

“I fell pretty hard. I’m used to falling like that in football when I wear pads, so I’m well protected,” Edwards said after the game with that familiar glint in his eyes. “I didn’t have pads tonight, so I felt it for sure. It took me a while to get used to the pain, but now I’m fine.”

Edwards doesn’t know he’s going to hurt in the morning, and the Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t know they were supposed to go down once the champion Denver Nuggets beat them two days earlier.

That joy could well be wrapped in resilience, and what seems like competitive ignorance could well be a recognition that an opportunity need not be wasted.

The Timberwolves did more than extend their season, and they did more than give the NBA its first Game 7 of the second round with a resounding 115-70 victory in Game 6 on Thursday.

What this series lacks in classic finishes, it makes up for in intrigue. This series has already taken a turn three times; Last time, the champion Nuggets won for the first time at home in this matchup thanks to a great performance by Nikola Jokić.

Now the NBA’s biggest series heads into what could be a classic Game 7.

“I feel like, as a competitor, it’s one of the best things in the world,” Edwards said. “I’ve never played a Game 7 on the road. But all of my road playoff experiences have been super fun because no one is on your side. So I can imagine what this game will be like.”

If the Nuggets thought they had delivered the knockout blow in Denver, they were sadly mistaken. Maybe they relaxed a little, especially after going up 9-2 and looking like it would be a repeat of Games 3 and 4, where the crowd was taken out of the game early as the Timberwolves had to play perfect just to stay close.

Anthony Edwards and the Timberwolves will return to Denver for Game 7. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

That wasn’t the case here, as the Timberwolves led by 24 points in the first half and by as many as 50 in the fourth.

“They beat us up,” Jokić said succinctly.

This group has a short memory, which is what makes these series of champions and challengers so interesting. The Nuggets know that the Timberwolves are approaching, that they are on their heels. In fact, the Nuggets may know better than the Timberwolves how good these guys are, and now it looks like the Timberwolves are finding out themselves.

“The kids just believe in themselves. The last three games, we’ve been down, trying to point fingers and blame someone,” Edwards said.

Then, in this morning’s video session, the coaches put together clips of what the Timberwolves had done in the first two games, which seems like two weeks ago when they stole two games at Ball Arena.

“Everyone started believing with the editing they did,” Edwards said. “I can see the energy changed. “It was a great moment, I told you it was a great moment.”

“We talked a lot about getting our edge back, our swagger, playing more free and calm,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “We hadn’t done our best on both sides of the ball. The other day we left a lot of meat on the bone in an offensive way. “You know it’s going to be a long series, that’s proven to be the case.”

That energy made its way from the practice facility to the game, and it looks like it could continue into Game 7, where anything goes, in a series that appears to have a little bit of everything.

That 9-2 lead soon turned into a 22-2 run by Minnesota, where the Wolves lived up to their nickname on one side: Frantic and skilled on defense, Jaden McDaniels and Nickeil Alexander-Walker resumed their roles as disruptors.

And on offense, it was patience and composure, along with timely shots from both wings that have not shot well, led by McDaniels who scored 21 and hit three triples, the same as Alexander-Walker.

“We got Mike Conley back, that was it,” Edwards said.

Conley missed Game 5 with a right Achilles tendon injury, but looked much like himself after the break. He himself scored three triples and scored 13 points with five assists.

“I know you have two of the best teams fighting and clawing every night,” Conley said. “We don’t know who is going to come out. Win by one point, win by 30 points, win by five points, both teams will adapt. “This is the most important part of our season, being in Game 7.”

What’s more, it freed Edwards to return to the attack after being attacked by up to three defenders two days ago.

Edwards finished with just 27 points, but they were very impactful, especially early on when the Timberwolves rallied. He went out into the open field to dunk, made threes and looked nothing like the hesitant player he was in Game 5.

“Since the last game I tried to get people involved and be aggressive, but with Mike playing I don’t have to worry about getting people involved,” Edwards said. “That’s his job.”

Edwards may not be the best player in this budding rivalry yet, not with Jokić in the midst of his prime and Edwards at 22, but he plays an important role, because he is directly linked to the two X-factors here: Karl-Anthony Towns on his side, and Murray on the other side.

Whether it was injury related or Edwards’ tenacious defense doing the job, Murray started 1-for-10, and when the game started he was out of his depth; Well, at halftime it was clear that the series was returning to Denver. .

But Murray didn’t feel comfortable when the game was ready (he ended up going 4 of 18 with 10 points), and Jokić couldn’t deliver another emblematic performance, with 22 and 9 in 36 minutes. That’s where Towns comes in, because Edwards continues to provide positive reinforcement and accountability at the same time. Towns is Jokić’s main defender, to keep Rudy Gobert at the rim and in help position for the other spots, but Gobert can’t be if Towns is still in foul trouble.

“He’s been doing an outstanding job throughout the series. The main thing is that his ass stayed out of foul trouble, like I told him in that Phoenix series,” Edwards said. “I cursed him every time I could, he stops committing fouls. You see it. If KAT doesn’t foul, we always win the game. You do the best job with Jokić.”

Towns can be quite careless when attacking, but he was patient, assessing the defense and guiding it toward open shooters. They didn’t hit at high speed, but making the right play gives you a chance, especially when those forwards attack the Nuggets’ poor rim protection.

Towns scored only 10 points in 29 minutes but added 13 rebounds and 5 assists, and committed only three fouls.

Edwards was rumored to have told a Denver ball boy as he left the locker room that he would be back for Game 7. In true Edwards style, he backed it up.

“Hell yeah,” Edwards said. “I told him, ‘I’ll see you all (expletives) for Game 7.'”

Game on.

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