5 Biggest Heroes from Timberwolves’ Game Six Win Over Nuggets

NBA: Playoffs-Denver Nuggets at Minnesota Timberwolves
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves returned home for an elimination game at Target Center in game 6 of the western conference semifinals. Draymond Green wrote them off, as did others, but Chris Finch’s squad was ready to play and they beat down the Denver Nuggets to the tune of a 45 point victory on Thursday night. It was a dominating team effort, but a few players stood out.

Going up against Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, the Minnesota Timberwolves were going to need everyone firing on all cylinders if they were going to push this series to seven games. The defending champions have been there, done that, and it appeared that Mike Malone’s squad was ready to go in for the kill. But then, the Wolves stepped up and their stars shined brightest.

1. Anthony Edwards proved it for Minnesota Timberwolves

It was presumably going to take a Michael Jordan type of moment for the Minnesota Timberwolves to extend the series. Anthony Edwards answered that call and did so without needing to put up a gaudy stat line. His 27 points weren’t exceptional, but the Timberwolves guard was a large reason that Jamal Murray couldn’t find success, despite his claims to the contrary.

Edwards told Nuggets staffers he would see them for Game 7, and he delivered on the promise. Checking out with more than eight minutes still left in the 4th quarter, Edwards threw up a “7” to notate what was coming, and you can bet he’ll be ready for that action as well.

2. Karl-Anthony Towns was Minnesota Timberwolves’ sneaky play

When Karl Anthony Towns remains under control, he is among the best players in the NBA. Minnesota frustrated both Jokic and Murray early in the series, and it wasn’t a coincidence that their performance faltered because of it. As Towns experienced some of that on his own, he too looked at a downtick in production.

Playing 29 minutes, Towns had only ten points, but he contributed 13 rebounds and most importantly was never in foul trouble. By locking down Jokic defensively, and staying smart about it, he allowed Micah Nori and Chris Finch the opportunity to move pieces around and let Rudy Gobert work as the last line of defense. In his least impactful offensive showing, Towns was at his best.

Related: Timberwolves Cook Nuggets to Force Game 7

3. Mike Conley Gives Minnesota Timberwolves leadership they need

As Edwards mentioned postgame, one massive key for the Timberwolves was the return of Mike Conley. Missing Game 5 due to an achilles injury, he was back on the court as the floor general. While NBA teams have much more fluid positions than they ever have previously, no one resembles a true point guard than Conley.

Being able to direct the offensive game flow and keep the group composed, you can see the veteran leadership permeate from his position on the court. Conley will get a couple more days to rest before Game 7, and Gobert has already instructed him he’s never allowed to leave him again.

4. Chris Finch’s adjustments were all Minnesota Timberwolves

In a long series the adjustments are virtually all about counter-punching. The Timberwolves had a flustering defensive presence that again looked like the first two games of the series. They were intense while no player drew more than three fouls, and three of the five starters recorded just one.

The officiating allowed Minnesota an opportunity to be physical worked in their favor, but the Timberwolves played within themselves to utilize it. A swarming defensive presence allowed the offensive side of things to take care of themselves. There’s no other way to describe a 45-point drubbing as anything but dominance.

5. Pregame locker room highlight hype video

NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets at Minnesota Timberwolves, Anthony Edwards, Mike Conley
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Less than an hour before game 6 tipped off at a rowdy Target Center on Thursday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves coaching staff ushered the team into a room that had a big screen ready for someone to press play.

According to The Athletic, there was doubt and nervousness throughout the roster when the team entered that room, an anxiety that was no longer weighing on the squad when they exited. Why? A highlight package from games one and two, with good background music.

The integration of music as a backdrop to the clips was new, with Chicago-born rapper G Herbo among those featured. Those sounds, they said, had a way of striking up the emotions.

“I think the last three games, we (were) all down on ourselves, just trying to point the finger, blame somebody,” said Edwards, who had 27 points, four assists, four rebounds and a team-best plus-43 rating. “And then today before the game, the coaches and the whole staff did a great job of putting a clip together (of) the plays that we made in the two games that we won against these guys. Everybody started to believe after that little edit that they put together, and I could tell the energy shifted. …So that was big time. I told them, ‘That was big time putting that edit together.’”

This, in essence, was their version of “Rocky II.” That’s the Timberwolves’ hope, anyway.

The Athletic
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