Minnesota is ready for the moment, gets 43 from Anthony Edwards to take Game 1 in Denver

2024 NBA Playoffs - Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets
2024 NBA Playoffs - Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets

Minnesota is ready for the moment.

Anthony Edwards continued his ascension to superstar status with 43 points and was the most dominant offensive force on the court.

Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid were ready, they combined for 36 points on 15-of-24 shooting, providing the secondary scoring the Timberwolves needed.

Rudy Gobert and the Timberwolves' defense was ready, it was disruptive all night taking away the system plays the Nuggets count on for easy buckets. Denver also forced Nikola Jokic to work to get his 32 points. Jokic took nine 3-pointers on the night, a sign of them taking away what they like to do closer to the rim.

And Minnesota was ready for crunch time — it outscored Denver 33-28 in the fourth quarter and shot 68.4% as a team in those final 12 minutes.

All that combined for an impressive Game 1 win for the Timberwolves on the road, 106-99. Minnesota leads the series 1-0, with Game 2 on Monday night in Denver.

The Timberwolves came out of the gate looking ready, racing out an 18-4 lead with Edwards scoring 13 of those. Meanwhile, the Nuggets opened the game shooting 2-of-10 — going against the Timberwolves' long, active defenders, after facing the Lakers, was a culture shock for the Nuggets.

The Nuggets bench came in, settled things down, and Denver went with a 13-0 run, and suddenly it was a game again. It was 44-40 Nuggets at the half because Edwards was not getting enough help — he had 25 of the Timberwolves' points on 10-of-17 shooting while his teammates had 15 points on 22.2% shooting.

That changed in the second half — Towns came in and shot 5-of-5 in the third quarter and the Timberwolves put up 33 points in the frame on 14-of-19 shooting.

When Towns earned his fourth and fifth fouls just a couple of minutes into the fourth quarter, Naz Reid came in and showed everyone why he was the Sixth Man of the Year — he had 10 consecutive points in one stretch and played brilliantly on both ends.

During the regular season, the Nuggets were the best clutch team in the league and the Timberwolves were bottom five. However, when this game got tight late, you would never have known it. Minnesota's offense clicked all night, led by Edwards but with everyone getting buckets. Look at Minnesota's second-half shot chart.

MIN vs DEN on 05_04_2024.png
MIN vs DEN on 05_04_2024.png

While Jokic played well things were not easy for him, and he didn't get enough help. Michael Porter Jr. had 20 points, but Jamal Murray went scoreless in the first half before finishing with 17. Aaron Gordon had nine but Minnesota did a good job using their length to take away the easy looks he did against the Lakers.

Denver is the defending champions, but the pressure shifts to them to win Game 2 at home or they could find themselves in too deep a hole even for them to climb out of.