Karl-Anthony Towns rebounds, Anthony Edwards bursts for 36 in Minnesota Timberwolves Game 1 win

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Anthony Edwards dazzled on his playoff debut and Karl-Anthony Towns had an impressive rebound game as the Minnesota Timberwolves upset the Memphis Grizzlies 130-117 in Game 1 of their playoff series first round on Saturday. .

“We did a fabulous job playing our game, Timberwolves basketball,” Towns said. “It was a team win. It happened because we all came today with one goal in mind, and that was to win. I thought we played a lot of game-winning basketball. We We did a lot of little things that are necessary to win. We should be very proud of our performance.”

Edwards, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, scored 36 points to become the third-youngest player with more than 35 points in a playoff game, behind only Derrick Rose and Tyler Herro, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. . Edwards did his damage from all over the court, draining four shots from beyond the arc, making three baskets on the rim and converting 8 of 8 free throw attempts in one of the league’s most auspicious release nights. recent history of the NBA.

“I said [teammate Taurean Prince] I treat every game the same,” Edwards said. “I didn’t feel any different — like a regular season game to me.”

Towns, who struggled on the court and with foul issues in Minnesota’s Tuesday night win over the visiting LA Clippers, reversed his fortunes with an efficient performance of 29 points and 13 rebounds. He dominated Memphis center Steven Adams, scoring on 9 of 11 attempts against the Grizzlies’ stalwart big man. It was a stark contrast to Towns’ jerky effort in Minneapolis.

“I’m happy with the performance I had tonight,” Towns said. “I really feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do. It shouldn’t be something we should be celebrating, like, ‘Oh, you have a chance to play a really good game on a national stage. . You should be really proud and excited. I’m supposed to do this.”

In his post-match comments, Towns highlighted Edwards’ incredible shooting ability, an ability to pull off tough attempts against a tight defence. On Saturday, eight of Edwards’ 12 field goals were contested by Memphis defenders.

“He won’t get an easy shot,” Towns said. “For him to be able to take multiple dribbles in the playoffs while also getting in his shoes and shooting is something special. Because once you’re in the playoffs, one-on-one dribbling are usually suppressed. , and he always finds ways to make it happen. That’s a special talent.”

Edwards’ shot probability – which measures the likelihood of an attempt succeeding – was the lowest among eight players in the game who attempted more than 10 field goals, according to Second Spectrum. Still, he finished with a good effective goal percentage of 56%.

Well aware of his reputation for taking tough, sometimes low-percentage attempts, Edwards joked that he was quite happy with his punching regimen.

“I love my shots,” Edwards said. “Whatever shot I take, whether it’s a back trey-ball or a back mid-range or a floater or a layup – whatever my shot – I like it. Occasionally, [Timberwolves coach Chris Finch] may not like it, but i like my shot. I just trust myself.”

The Timberwolves also have confidence in Edwards, as the long-suffering Minnesota franchise goes up 1-0 in its quest to win a playoff series for the first time since 2004.

“When he’s playing basketball at this level, he’s almost unstoppable,” Towns said of Edwards, before correcting himself. “He’s unstoppable, actually.”