National Basketball Association
Timberwolves' postseason party continues as Anthony Edwards plays beyond his years
National Basketball Association

Timberwolves' postseason party continues as Anthony Edwards plays beyond his years

Updated May. 20, 2024 9:27 a.m. ET

Anthony Edwards' maturity was never on display more than it was Sunday.

Despite dazzling with 40-point performances throughout the playoffs, he was bottled up in the most important game of his career. In Game 7 on the road against the defending champion Denver Nuggets in the second round of the playoffs, he was a woeful 1-for-7 from the field as his Minnesota Timberwolves trailed by 20 points at the top of the third quarter.

But the 22-year-old didn't panic. Or wave the white flag. Or succumb to frustration.

Instead, he dug in on the defensive end and focused on bottling up Jamal Murray, who had torched the Timberwolves for 24 points in the first half on 8-for-15 shooting. With Edwards' offense sputtering, he poured his energy into stopping the hottest player on the opposing team, holding him to just 11 points on 1-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc for the remainder of the game.


"I'm not one dimensional," Edwards told TNT during his postgame interview. "I'm not just a guy who can score. I'm a guy — whoever they best guard is — I can go lock 'em down. I feel like I did that on Jamal in the third quarter and fourth quarter. And that's what turned the game around."

The Timberwolves went on to complete the biggest comeback in Game 7 history, transforming that 20-point deficit into a 98-90 win to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 20 years, where they will face the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 on Wednesday.

For Edwards, even though it was one of his worst games of these playoffs, in many ways it was one of his most impressive performances. Yes, he had a postseason-low 16 points from the field on 6-for-24 shooting, including going 2-for-10 from beyond the arc.

But every time the camera panned to him, he was engaged. When he was on the bench, he was cheering on his teammates. And for a young hotshot whose name has been used in the same sentence as Michael Jordan of late, he didn't unravel or show the typical signs of immaturity when things weren't going his way.

Instead, he hounded Murray, who is known as one of the best postseason performers in the league. He took away his shot. He trash-talked him. He left him discombobulated. With 38.1 seconds left in the third quarter, he stripped the ball from Murray in front of the halfcourt line and made a right-handed dunk on the other end.

The Timberwolves outscored the Nuggets, 60-37, in the second half. It was stunning. To do that on the road against three-time MVP Nikola Jokic, Murray and a team that was widely expected to make another title run was shocking.

The Timberwolves are showing a level of composure that the rest of the league has to note. After a three-game skid against the Nuggets, they responded with a 45-point win in Game 6. In Game 7, their maturity manifested even further.

Denver entered the winner-takes-all setting with a palpable fire. After Game 6, Jokic stood the entire fourth quarter with a 1,000-yard stare as his team suffered its worst playoff loss in franchise history. In his news conference afterward, the typically nonchalant center who is known for viewing basketball as more of a job than a passion, made it clear he took this defeat personally: "They beat our ass."

As for Murray, his disappearance in Game 6 (10 points on 4-for-18 shooting) was trolled so much on the internet that videos were popping up on social media of a Murray-lookalike wearing a flowered shirt, carrying a purse and pretending to put his hair behind his ears. It was obvious that he had a chip on his shoulder for Game 7.

But the Timberwolves took the Nuggets' best punches on the chin, refusing to crumble. They showed why they were the top-rated defensive team this season in the second half, with Edwards playing the ultimate spoil and making sure the streak of no defending champion advancing past the second round of the playoffs would extend to six straight seasons.

For Edwards, personally, it was a game that's not going to be celebrated on highlight reels. But it showed what he's made of.

Even though his shot wasn't falling for much of the night, he didn't hesitate to shoot a 24-foot 3-pointer with 3:07 left to extend the Timberwolves' lead to 10 points, their largest of the game, which officially put the nail in the coffin for the Nuggets.

Edwards dabbed and hugged someone courtside. He screamed toward Nuggets' fans. He chest-bumped his teammates.

It didn't matter that Game 7 didn't go his way. All that mattered was that he was a major part of it going his team's way. It might have said more about his superstar potential than any of his 40-point performances that sparked comparisons to the greatest player of all-time.

Edwards doesn't fold when things get tough. He doesn't shrivel when his shot isn't falling. He doesn't hide when things get tough.

And after Game 7, you best believe Edwards was bragging. But this time it was about the unglamorous side of the court that often goes unnoticed.

"I had Jamal in handcuffs," he said as he walked through the hallway of Ball Arena, headed toward his first Western Conference finals.

Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.


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