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Apr 10, 2024 9:39 am

Anthony Edwards, Timberwolves set for showdown vs. Nuggets

Anthony Edwards

The Denver Nuggets beat Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs in 2023, but this season the Timberwovles quickly have become one of the top teams in the Western Conference.

In fact, the Timberwolves (55-24) will look to move into sole possession of first place in the West when they visit the Nuggets (55-24) on Wednesday night. The teams are tied for first with three games remaining, and both teams have won four of their past five games.

Both teams also were in action Tuesday night. Minnesota overcame an early 21-point deficit to beat visiting Washington 130-121, while Denver posted a 111-95 victory at Utah.

“I don’t even need to talk about how big it is. Everybody knows,” Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards said of the upcoming encounter with the Nuggets.

This will be the fourth meeting of the season between the Northwest Division rivals, with Minnesota having won two of the first three matchups — including 111-98 on March 29 in Denver. The Nuggets were without guard Jamal Murray in that loss, but he has played the last two games after missing seven due to right knee inflammation.

Murray is on a minutes restriction but played 27 Tuesday night, scoring 28 points.

Nikola Jokic is not on a restriction and is considered the front-runner to win his third league MVP in the last four seasons. He is averaging 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game.

Jokic, who has 25 triple-doubles this season, has shouldered the load with Murray limited to 56 games due to various injuries.

“He’s a supernova; he’s the brightest star,” teammate Reggie Jackson said recently. “Honestly, he’s the sun. Everything revolves around him.”

The Timberwolves previously revolved around Karl-Anthony Towns, but Edwards has become the main focus of the team.

Towns, who last played on March 4 due to a knee injury, is getting closer to returning. Minnesota has fared well in his absence, going 12-5.

Edwards provided the spark Tuesday night with a career-high 51 points to go with seven assists and six rebounds. Edwards said he was fueled by a pep talk from coach Chris Finch.

“He put me in the office two, three days ago and said, ‘Look man, we’ve got this Washington game, and we need to win it, need to come ready to play, and you can’t treat it like any other game,'” Edwards said.

This will be the second time the Nuggets and Minnesota have played a high-stakes game this late in the season. In 2018 they met in game No. 82 in Minneapolis, with the winner getting the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Timberwolves prevailed in overtime that night to extend Denver’s postseason drought to five straight years. The Nuggets since have not missed the playoffs, earning the No. 2 seed in 2019 and reaching the Western Conference finals in the 2020 Orlando bubble.

Minnesota has earned the No. 1 seed in the conference once in its history, in 2004 when Kevin Garnett was the franchise player. The Timberwolves lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals, which remains the only time they’ve gone that deep in the postseason.

–Field Level Media

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