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JEFF ZILLGITT
NBA Playoffs

If Anthony Edwards, Timberwolves didn't have your attention before, they do now

If the didn鈥檛 have your attention after a 56-26 season and if didn鈥檛 have your attention as he emerged as one of the NBA鈥檚 next superstars during the regular season and first round of the playoffs, they have your attention now.

The Timberwolves took a 1-0 lead against the defending champion in a Western Conference semifinals series.

Edwards, the NBA's emerging 22-year-old superstar, scored 25 of his game-high 43 points in the first half as the Saturday. It was Edwards' second 40-point performance in the playoffs.

He joined Kobe Bryant as the only players 22 or younger to score at least 40 points in consecutive playoff games, and Edwards 鈥 who shot 17-for-29 from the field 鈥 became the 10th player to score 35 or more points in three consecutive road games in one postseason.

Game 2 is Monday in Denver (10 p.m. ET, TNT).

Anthony Edwards scored 43 points to help the Timberwolves to a Game 1 victory over the Nuggets in Denver.

The game had its oddities. Denver鈥檚 Jamal Murray didn鈥檛 score in the first half for the first time in his 59-game playoff career. Three of Minnesota starters 鈥 Mike Conley, Jaden McDaniels and Rudy Gobert 鈥 combined for two first-half points, and Timberwolves Sixth Man of the Year Naz Reid didn鈥檛 score in the first half.

And Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch had a seat behind the bench after undergoing surgery Wednesday to repair a ruptured patellar tendon sustained in a sideline collision with Conley in the closeout victory against Phoenix in the first round. Assistant coach Micah Nori roamed the sideline yelling instructions, but from his sideline bench seat, Finch was in constant communication with Nori and the coaching staff.

But Conley found scoring in the second half, finishing with 14 points and 10 assists, Karl-Anthony Towns added 20 points and though his scoring wasn鈥檛 a factor, Gobert had 13 rebounds, three assists and three blocks and Reid had 16 points in the second half, including 10 consecutive Timberwolves points in one stretch.

This series is more like a one seed vs. a one seed considering both had a chance at the top seed heading into the final day of the regular season.

This was a great sign for the Timberwolves, taking Game 1 on the road and offsetting two-time MVP Nikola Jokic鈥檚 32 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and three steals. Michael Porter Jr. added 20 points, six rebounds and three steals for Denver.

No team in the NBA understands playoff basketball and what is required to succeed at this time of the season better than the Nuggets.

That doesn鈥檛 mean the Nuggets win every playoff game, and it doesn鈥檛 mean they will repeat as NBA champions. It means they are the most difficult team to beat and another team will need to outmatch Denver鈥檚 execution to win a series.

Every teams knows that. The Timberwolves know that from last season鈥檚 playoff loss to the Nuggets.

In the series opening win Saturday, the Timberwolves kept Denver from overtaking them down the stretch and built a 102-91 lead with 1:36 remaining in the fourth quarter on Edwards鈥 14-foot fadeaway.

Minnesota shot 71% in the second half and outscored the Nuggets 22-15 in the final six minutes.

The Timberwolves outexecuted the Nuggets

Now, they just have to do it three more times.

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