Behind an extraordinary performance from Anthony Edwards in his playoff debut, the Minnesota Timberwolves took a 1-0 lead in their first-round series with a 130-117 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. Edwards, who doesn't turn 21 until August, scored 36 points on 12-for-23 shooting, with six assists, one steal and two blocks, leading the Wolves to their first Game 1 victory since 2004. This is also the first time Minnesota has led in a playoff series since 2004.
After a rough showing in the play-in, Karl-Anthony Towns bounced back with 29 points on 11-for-18 shooting, plus 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocks at FedExForum. Towns also did this:
The Wolves took a 13-point lead in the first quarter, but the Grizzlies erased it on a turnover-fueled run in the second. Down the stretch, Patrick Beverley and Jaden McDaniels made crucial 3-pointers, while Memphis' offense went flat. McDaniels and Malik Beasley scored a combined 38 points on 13-for-20 shooting off the bench.
For the No. 2-seeded Grizzlies, Ja Morant had 32 points on 8-for-18 shooting, eight assists, four rebounds and a steal. Morant shot 16 for 20 from the free throw line and had a highlight dunk of his own:
1. Ant's arrival
Welcome to the show, Anthony Edwards! He's the first Timberwolf to score 30 or more in a playoff game since Kevin Garnett did it 18 years ago, and only two players -- Magic Johnson and Tyler Herro -- have scored more than his 36 points in a playoff game before turning 21. Here's his first playoff bucket, a deeeeeep 3 over Steven Adams:
And here's his most important one, a pull-up 3 over Brooks:
Edwards shot 4 for 11 from 3, made a few off-the-dribble 2s -- you know, star shots -- and mixed in some rim attacks. He made all eight of his free-throw attempts and only turned the ball over twice. This was a terrific all-around offensive game, and Memphis didn't even make many mistakes against him.
Minnesota needed all that shot-making from Edwards because it didn't get much of it from its point guard. D'Angelo Russell shot 2 for 10 in 29 minutes and finished with 10 points and nine assists.
2. The math problem
It's hard to win when your opponent scores 48 points from behind the 3-point line and you only score 21. Memphis is not a particularly prolific 3-point-shooting team, nor is it an incredibly accurate one, but this was extreme: 16 for 41 for the Wolves, 7 for 27 for the Grizzlies.
Typically, Memphis makes up for its math problem by dominating the possession game. In the series opener, it didn't quite do that. The Grizzlies forced 18 turnovers, including 10 in the second quarter alone, and had a 25-11 advantage in points off turnovers. They did not, however, win the rebounding battle. The Wolves rebounded 32.6 percent of their misses and scored 19 second-chance points, while Memphis rebounded 25 percent of its misses and scored 14 second-chance points.
3. Not enough JJJ
Jaren Jackson Jr. only played half the game, and the Grizzlies' Defensive Player of the Year candidate was in foul trouble virtually the entire time. He finished with 12 points on 4-for-13 shooting, four rebounds, one assists, two turnovers and five fouls. He missed all five of his 3-point attempts, including one in the corner that would have cut Memphis' deficit to four points with about five minutes left in the game.
Jackson also had seven -- seven! -- blocks, including these two:
Even as Jackson has grown into an All-Defense type, fouls have remained a glaring issue. The Grizzlies obviously need him to stay on the floor, particularly because they might need him to play more center than usual in this series -- Towns has always given Adams trouble.
This doesn't just mean defending without fouling; it means avoiding offensive fouls. Jackson picked up two charges on Saturday.