NBA playoffs: Timberwolves put Nuggets on notice with Game 1 win sparked by Anthony Edwards' heroics

Anthony Edwards punched the Denver Nuggets in the mouth Saturday.

Denver hit back, but Naz Reid delivered the knockout blow in a 106-99 Minnesota Timberwolves win over the Nuggets in Game 1 of their second-playoff series.

Billed as the continued coming-out party for one of the game's brightest young stars against the reigning champs, Saturday's contest lived up to the hype. Each team took its turn in the driver's seat before the Timberwolves ultimately prevailed in a tense win on the road to put the Nuggets on notice.

Edwards scored 16 first-quarter points, including 13 of Minnesota's first 18, as the Timberwolves jumped out to an 18-4 lead. The Nuggets answered with a 21-5 run to close out the first quarter with a 25-23 lead.

From there it was a slugfest until a late Minnesota run sparked by the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year. Reid scored 10 straight Timberwolves points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of 3 pointers, to put the Timberwolves up, 94-88.

The Nuggets never recovered as Minnesota held on down the stretch to stun the champion Nuggets in their own building. The loss marks the first time since 2022 that the Nuggets have trailed in a playoff series. They never faced a series deficit in their run to the title last year.

Anthony Edwards' playoff tear continued Saturday with a 43-point effort against the Nuggets. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Anthony Edwards' playoff tear continued Saturday with a 43-point effort against the Nuggets. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Edwards finished with 43 points, marking his third straight playoff game with 35 or more points. He added seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. He did his scoring from inside and out while shooting 17-of-29 from the field and 3-of-7 from 3-point distance. Denver had no answer on defense.

Outside of a 15-point effort in Game 2 against the Phoenix Suns, Edwards has now scored 33 or more points in four of Minnesota's five playoff games this postseason. The Timberwolves improve to 5-0 in the playoffs after a first-round sweep of the Suns. Saturday's 43-point effort marked a career playoff high for Edwards.

The spotlight belonged to Edwards from the opening tip. He started the scoring with a contested 3 from the right wing with Denver's top perimeter stopper, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, in tight coverage.

Moments later, his and-1 floater in traffic increased the Minnesota lead to 9-0, and the Nuggets were in trouble early.

But the Nuggets composed themselves to take a two-point lead at the first-quarter break, thanks to nine points each from Nikola Jokić and Michael Porter Jr. Despite the first scoreless playoff half of Jamal Murray's career, Denver took a 44-40 lead into the break.

Minnesota's league-best defense slowed the Denver attack, but the Nuggets held Timberwolves not named Edwards in check throughout the first half. Edwards tallied 25 of Minnesota's 40 first-half points as the Timberwolves shot 36.3% from the field. He got help in the second half while continuing to do plenty of damage of his own.

Edwards set the tone on defense early in the third quarter with a block of Porter that led to a transition and-1 dunk from Karl-Anthony Towns.

The play helped spark a scorching 33-point third quarter as Minnesota connected on 14 of its 19 field-goal attempts to take a 73-71 lead into the fourth.

From there, the game saw 10 combined ties and lead changes before Reid's mid-quarter run put Minnesota in control. With the game tied at 84 and the shot clock expiring, Reid launched a desperation 3 from the right wing. It bounced off the glass and in.

On Minnesota's next possession, Reid beat Jokić to a rebound and put back an Edwards miss from 3 with a one-handed slam. On the next Timberwolves possession, he beat Jokić for an and-1 layup.

He missed the free throw, but followed up with another 3 for his 10th straight Timberwolves point to put Minnesota up 94-88 with 4:20 remaining. Denver got as close as 94-91 from there, but never retook the lead.

Reid finished with 16 points, four rebounds and three assists while shooting 7-of-11 from the field. Towns tallied 20 points, four rebounds and three assists on an 8-of-13 effort. Rudy Gobert did his typical yeoman's work on defense and the glass while tallying six points, 13 rebounds, three blocks and one steal.

Jokić led the Nuggets with 32 points, eight rebounds, nine assists and three steals, while shooting 11-of-25 from the field (44%), well below his season-long shooting rate of 58.3%. Porter tallied 20 points, six rebounds and three steals. Murray rallied from a scoreless first half to post 17 points and four assists. But it wasn't enough as no other Nuggets player scored in double figures.

Minnesota outshot Denver from the field (52.4% to 46.7%) and secured a 42-34 rebounding advantage. The Nuggets failed to score 100 points for the first time this postseason.

Game 2 is scheduled for Monday night in Denver, where the Nuggets will face pressure like they never saw during last year's run to the championship.