Anthony Edwards

Wolves Notes: Conley, Finch, Towns, Edwards

Mike Conley will have a chance to make a new Game 7 memory on Sunday, writes Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. The Timberwolves‘ veteran point guard is still bothered by how the series ended when he and Rudy Gobert faced the Nuggets as members of the Jazz in a 2020 seventh game in the Orlando bubble. Conley had an opportunity to give Utah a dramatic victory, but his three-point shot at the buzzer misfired.

“I’ve replayed it a lot,” he said. “Having that opportunity to win a Game 7 like that and not be able to make the shot was tough. Now here we are in a similar situation, where we get to play the same team, a lot of the same guys. So for me, it’s just something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Hopefully this will turn out different.”

Conley plans to be ready despite being listed as questionable with a right soleus strain that kept him out of Game 5. He was able to return for Thursday’s contest and said he feels better now than he did that night. He wants to be on the court so he can put to rest the bad memories from four years ago.

“It’s hard to escape it,” Conley said. “You find that clip every now and then. Sometimes it comes across the phone. I don’t actively search it — I don’t want to bring up that memory too much. But at the same time, it’s something that I’ve thought about at workouts and I think about if I’m having a tough day in a workout missing a certain shot. I’m like, ‘Nah, I got to make this because I might be in this situation again.'”

There’s more on the Wolves:

  • Injured head coach Chris Finch said he and lead assistant Micah Nori have developed an effective system as the series has worn on, Hine adds in the same piece. Finch can’t roam the sidelines after suffering a ruptured patella tendon in the first round, so he and Nori have to be selective about when they communicate. “Couple games ago, he was looking at me or to me a lot,” Finch said. “I just said, you can’t do that, we’re losing some possessions maybe here and there. Just trust your gut. He’s got 30 years of experience. So use it.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns only scored 10 points in Game 6, but he sparked Minnesota’s blowout by doing all the things his critics say he can’t do, observes Jim Souhan of The Star-Tribune. Towns served as the primary defender against Nikola Jokic, grabbed seven rebounds by the end of the first quarter and made the right passes in the offense.
  • Teammates raved about Anthony Edwards‘ maturation int0 a leader after Game 6, per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. As the Wolves pulled away, Edwards implored the team to avoid any letdown that would allow Denver to get back into the game. “Just the way he’s grown from, I always say my second year, his rookie year, just from the way he’s grown as a basketball player and that person,” Naz Reid said. “It’s completely night and day.”

Wolves Notes: Conley, Edwards, Towns, McDaniels

Facing elimination on Thursday, the Timberwolves turned in arguably the most dominant performance of any team this postseason, holding the Nuggets to 70 points on the night and going on separate 20-0, 13-0, and 24-0 runs en route to a 45-point victory. What was the difference for Minnesota? According to Anthony Edwards, the answer was simple, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“We got Mike Conley back,” Edwards said of his backcourt mate, who missed Game 5 due to a right soleus strain. “That was it.”

It’s a little reductive to give Conley full credit for the Wolves’ incredible performance. After all, he was also on the floor for the team’s home losses in Games 3 and 4. But Minnesota’s players and coaches have spoken all season about the outsized impact the veteran point guard – who was the team’s fifth-leading scorer during the season – has on the Wolves.

“Mike means everything for us,” head coach Chris Finch said after Game 6. “Unbelievable next to Anthony in terms of being able to set him up, play off of him, be in his ear all of the time. Smart defender. Just everything you want in an experienced, veteran point guard and just the very fact that Ant doesn’t have to handle it every single time, that alone helps us. … We desperately missed him the other night.”

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • As Sam Amick of The Athletic details, several Timberwolves players credited a video the coaching staff showed prior to Game 6 for helping the club regain its swagger and get in the right head space heading into Thursday’s contest. “Normally we have a (film) edit, just with certain offensive possessions This edit was more of a production, one of those that show all the big dunks and highlights and the ball movement and with music behind it,” Conley said. “It was a surprise. We’ll usually see the defensive stuff and offensive stuff, but this time they plugged it up to the big speaker. We normally don’t have anything plugged into the big speakers, just the (film) and coach will be talking over it. But this was more of a change-our-mentality sort of thing.” Edwards told reporters that the team’s “energy shifted” after watching the hype video, while Karl-Anthony Towns said it reminded the Wolves of the “discipline, the execution, (and) the tenacity” that they’d been lacking in their losses.
  • Edwards – who said on Thursday that he wants to be “the best player on both sides of the ball in the NBA,” per McMenamin – was the primary defender on Jamal Murray in Game 6. It was a miserable night for the Nuggets guard, who scored just 10 points on 4-of-18 shooting, though Murray suggested after the loss that a right elbow injury he suffered early in the game was more to blame for his off night. “I put some numbing cream on it just so I didn’t have to feel it every time it extended,” Murray said, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “… We got two days off. I just got to get ready and be able to be better for Sunday. Yeah, (it’s got) to be better for Sunday, man.”
  • Towns scored a playoff-low 10 points on Thursday, but his fingerprints were “all over” Minnesota’s Game 6 win, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic contends. Towns grabbed 13 rebounds, handed out five assists, only turned the ball over once, and – perhaps most crucially – stayed out of foul trouble while defending Nikola Jokic. “I told him today, ‘We’re thankful that you didn’t foul because if you foul we lose,'” Edwards said. “Because you are the best matchup we’ve got for Jokic. Like, you do the best job on him.”
  • After making just 2-of-12 three-pointers and scoring a total of 35 points in the first five games of the series, Jaden McDaniels hit 3-of-5 threes and scored 21 points on Thursday. Chip Scoggins of The Star Tribune takes a closer look at the impact that the Wolves’ “X-factor” had in the victory.

Wolves Notes: Conley, Confidence, Maturity, Jokic, Gobert, NAW

Timberwolves point guard Mike Conley was ruled out for Tuesday’s Game 5 with a right soleus strain and is officially questionable for tonight’s Game 6. However, the 36-year-old plans to suit up, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter).

After Game 5, head coach Chris Finch said the team was optimistic Conley could return for Game 6, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “We’re hopeful Mike can go in Game 6,” Finch said. “That was one of the reasons to be cautious with him right here, feeling that he could go [on Thursday].”

Conley’s leadership and steady hand in the backcourt have buoyed Minnesota throughout the team’s 56-win season, writes Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. The 36-year-old also understands his window of opportunity is shrinking, and the same may be true of the Wolves in the series.

I’m one of those people, I don’t want to learn through losing,” Conley said. “I don’t want to learn by letting a team win a couple games in a series to make us change some things. Why don’t we, in games, figure this out? We’re good enough to do this. I don’t have time for it, y’all don’t have time for it.”

Conley, who signed a two-year extension during the season, played 76 regular season games in ’23/24 and is the team’s top on-ball decision-maker.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Despite dropping three straight games for the first time all season, the Timberwolves remain confident as they look to stave off elimination against Denver in Thursday’s Game 6, according to McMenamin of ESPN. “Adversity has been something we’ve answered all year,” All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns said. “It’s something that if I was to go through this with anyone, I would go through it with these guys in this locker room. I have full confidence in these guys, I have full confidence in our locker room, I have confidence in our coaching staff. Everyone has been tremendous all year. It’s now time to put all that experience and that unity we’ve built throughout the whole year, even last year, and put it on the table and play our best basketball so we can give ourselves a chance to bring back Game 7 here.”
  • Star guard Anthony Edwards struggled with Denver’s extra defensive pressure in Game 5, but he said he’s looking forward to making up for it tonight in Minnesota, McMenamin adds. “Super excited,” Edwards said. “You get to compete. Get to go home and play with our backs against the wall. It should be fun.” If he’s healthy, Conley’s return should alleviate some double-team pressure from Edwards.
  • Despite their public proclamations of confidence, the Wolves haven’t dealt with adversity well the past few games, particularly from an emotional maturity standpoint, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune (subscriber link). Several players have been guilty of immature moments, which has been an issue for this group the past couple seasons, Hine adds. “I mean, we got to keep our head. I think that’s the story for us,” Rudy Gobert said. “… We have to be mentally tough, individually and collectively, to be able to keep playing our game and not let anything that happened in the game affect the way we play.”
  • Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic details how three-time MVP Nikola Jokic, who is also the reigning Finals MVP for the defending-champion Nuggets, was able to eviscerate four-time Defensive Player of the Year Gobert and Minnesota’s top-ranked defense in Game 5. The Serbian superstar was particularly lethal in the third period, recording 16 points on just seven shot attempts and recording four assists, frequently while intentionally hunting Gobert. John Hollinger of The Athletic contends that Jokic’s remarkable performance — 40 points on 15-of-22 shooting, 13 assists, seven rebounds, two steals and a block with zero turnovers — isn’t being discussed enough.
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker has become an unlikely X-factor for the Wolves, writes Andrew Lopez of ESPN. The former first-round pick was traded three times in quick succession but has turned into a defensive stopper and a leader for Minnesota, Lopez notes.
  • Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune argues that if the Wolves are eliminated by the Nuggets, they shouldn’t blow up the big man pairing of Towns and Gobert. Souhan also says the team should replace Kyle Anderson with another three-point shooter to improve the offense, which has been the primary issue over the past three games.

Wolves/Nuggets Notes: Edwards, Conley, Murray, Gordon, Malone

In a series dominated by the visitors, the Timberwolves now find themselves looking for answers as they head to Denver for a pivotal Game 5 on Tuesday.

Wolves guard Anthony Edwards poured in 44 points in Game 4 but it wasn’t enough to prevent from the Nuggets from tying the series. Edwards is unfazed by the prospect of having to beat the defending champions twice more after losing the last two games at home.

“I said it after Game 2, they’re not going to lay down,” Edwards said, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “They’re going to punch and we’re going to punch back. They beat us up (Sunday). The last two nights, they beat us up in the fight. That’s OK. we’re going to be all right.”

We have more on the Western Conference series:

  • Mike Conley also looks at the way Minnesota handled the Nuggets in Denver during the first two games of the series as a reason for optimism, Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune relays. “I don’t think anybody thought this series would be over by now,” the Timberwolves point guard said. “We’re confident in our ability to win in Denver. We’ve done it before. We just have to remind ourselves it’s not going to be easy by any means.”
  • The only name on the injury report for either team for Game 5 is Nuggets guard Jamal Murray. He’s listed as questionable with a left calf strain, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets. Murray, who has been consistently listed as questionable due to that injury but has yet to miss a playoff game, had 19 points and eight assists in 39 minutes on Sunday.
  • Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon was a game-changer in Game 4 on both ends of the floor, Tony Jones of The Athletic notes. Not only did he post 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists, he stifled Karl-Anthony Towns, who shot 5-for-18 from the field. “He was our best player,” Nikola Jokic said.
  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone wants the Denver fans on Tuesday to provide the necessary boost that’s been lacking for the home teams in the series, Jones adds in the same story. “We came up here (in Minnesota) to get two, and to take home court back,” Malone said. “And now that we were able to do that, we have to go back to Denver and protect our home court. We have already lost two games there, so we can’t afford to lose a third. That’s a message to our fans to come on Tuesday night and make that place an absolute zoo. This was a good win for us, but we can’t celebrate because we have a long way to go.”

Wolves Notes: Conley, Edwards, Towns, McDaniels, Defense

As Sam Amick of The Athletic details, adding veteran guard Mike Conley at the 2023 trade deadline was one of the best moves the Timberwolves have made in recent years. In addition to being a perfect on-court fit for Minnesota’s playing style, Conley has served as something of a “connector” between Rudy Gobert and his teammates and has been a veteran mentor to rising star Anthony Edwards, writes Amick.

Conley, who had been on an expiring contract this season, is no longer averaging 20-plus points per game like he did earlier in his career, but he continues to play at a high level in his role, averaging 5.9 assists per game and making 44.2% of his three-pointers this season. His ability to remain productive was a factor in his decision to sign a two-year extension with the Wolves earlier this year, he tells Amick.

“Before I signed the extension, it was like, ‘Man, it could be this year, it could be next year, it could be any year,'” Conley said, referring to possible retirement. “But then as I played this year out, I was like, ‘Man, I haven’t slowed down yet, and I just can’t imagine myself leaving when I haven’t hit that bottom yet.’ So I’m just gonna burn these tires off and not put a date on it and see what happens.”

The 36-year-old said he hasn’t thought much about what the next phase of his career will look like once his playing days are over, but he envisions himself being “around this game” even after his retirement. While he’s not sure coaching is in the cards, he mentioned a front office role or a media job as a couple possibilities.

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • Chris Hine of The Star Tribune spoke to Edwards’ longtime skills trainer and coach Kierre Jordan about the work the former No. 1 overall pick has put in to become one of the NBA’s most effective postseason scorers, while Mo Dakhil and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic broke down some game film from the first two games of the Denver series to illustrate how we’re witnessing Edwards’ development in real time.
  • Minnesota has received trade inquiries on Karl-Anthony Towns in the past year or two and could have decided to move him last offseason, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link), who hears from sources that some of the offers the Wolves got were “decent.” However, the team stuck with its star big man and he has rewarded that trust. Lowe likens Towns’ transformation in Minnesota to the way Aaron Gordon found an ideal role in Denver after being miscast as a ball-handling star in Orlando, noting that Edwards’ ascent has helped put Towns in a better position to succeed.
  • Asked by Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter video link) where he ranks himself as an NBA defender, Wolves forward Jaden McDaniels placed himself second, behind only his four-time Defensive Player of the Year teammate. “I think I’m the best defender in the NBA besides Rudy (Gobert),” McDaniels said. “We got the DPOY, so I’ll take the step back. But I feel like I’m up there with Rudy. Just the versatility — I can guard one through four, using my length on smaller guys and even bigger guys.”
  • The ferociousness of Minnesota’s defense evokes some championship teams of the past, per David Aldridge of The Athletic, who compares the Wolves’ suffocating D on Nuggets guard Jamal Murray to the way the “Bad Boy” era Pistons would guard Michael Jordan.

Nikola Jokic Named Most Valuable Player

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has been selected as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the third time in four years, the league announced (via Twitter).

Jokic won the Michael Jordan Trophy by a wide margin, showing up on all 99 ballots and collecting 79 votes for first place, 18 for second place and two for third place, giving him a total of 926 points. Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished second, collecting 640 total points by coming in first on 15 ballots, second on 40, third on 40, fourth on three and fifth on one.

Rounding out the top five were Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (4-36-50-8-0-566), Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (1-1-4-44-23-192) and Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (0-3-1-28-32-142).

Also receiving votes were Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0-0-1-14-39-89), Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (0-1-1-1-3-18), Kings center Domantas Sabonis (one fourth-place vote) and Suns forward Kevin Durant (one fifth-place vote).

Jokic becomes the ninth player to claim at least three MVP awards (Twitter link). He ties Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Moses Malone, and trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six), Michael Jordan and Bill Russell (five each), and Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James (four each).

The Nuggets celebrated the honor by tweeting a video tribute to Jokic narrated by his wife, Natalija.

Jokic posted another outstanding statistical season, averaging 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists in 79 games. He shot 58.3% from the field and 35.9% from three-point range as Denver claimed the second seed in the Western Conference.

Bennett Durando of The Denver Post took a closer look at Jokic’s historic season, noting that he finished fifth in the league in total points, third in total rebounds and second in total assists. He also collected 25 triple-doubles and posted a true shooting percentage above 65% for the third straight season while leading the NBA in most advanced stats, including PER, VORP, box plus-minus, and win shares.

“I think he’s stated his case pretty well,” Jamal Murray said today before the award was announced. “He does it every night. It’s hard to do what he does and face the kind of pressure that he does each and every day. He does it in the smallest ways. He makes everybody around us better. He’s a leader on the court and someone we expect greatness from every time he steps on the court. And he’s delivered. … He’s been so consistent all his career, all his MVP runs. He’s been so consistent. So I don’t expect one or two bad games to sway that in any way.”

Northwest Notes: Blazers’ Staff, Edwards, Thunder Bench

The Trail Blazers are shaking up Chauncey Billups’ coaching staff. They are not renewing the contracts of lead assistant Scott Brooks or Chauncey’s younger brother Rodney Billups, Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian reports. They now have three vacancies on the staff, since Steve Hetzel recently departed to join the staff of new Nets head coach Jordi Fernandez.

We have more on the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves All-Star Anthony Edwards torched Denver’s defense for 43 points in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals on Saturday. Edwards received good news from the NBA on Sunday, as the technical he was assessed during the third quarter has been rescinded by the league, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Edwards was given the tech for staring down Reggie Jackson.
  • The ThunderMavericks series begins on Tuesday and Thunder beat writer Ryan Stiles believes the Oklahoma City’s bench could be a deciding factor. They can call on Cason Wallace, Isaiah Joe, Aaron Wiggins, Gordon Hayward and Kenrich Williams to provide an impact,
  • In another piece from Stiles, he explores six other storylines to watch in the ThunderMavericks series.

Northwest Notes: Connelly, Edwards, Murray, Nuggets

Nuggets-turned-Timberwolves team president Tim Connelly has reconfigured Minnesota to be potential giant-slayers against the reigning champs, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. Connelly has made some major changes to the team since taking over the front office in 2022, most notably acquiring former Jazz stars Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert, plus swingman Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

As Amick notes, Connelly’s decision to emphasize an oversized frontcourt seemed like a direct response to two-time MVP Denver center Nikola Jokic. Connelly has, for now, been striving to retain incumbent big men Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid, the latter of whom he signed to a three-season, $42MM contract as a free agent in 2023.

Following an uncharacteristic 106-99 Game 1 Denver loss to Minnesota, Jokic himself praised the opposition’s flexibility.

“I think that’s why they’re good,” Jokic opined. “They can play big. They can play small. …They’re long, physical. They rebound really well. They’re aggressive. I’m satisfied with the shots that I took. Some of them I missed. Some of them I made. So it’s a tough game, and they’re a really good defensive team.”

For his part, three-time Defensive Player of the Year Gobert appeared to be reveling in the challenge of trying to contain – or at least slow – Jokic.

“I mean, to me, he’s the best player in the world,” Gobert told Amick. “He’s soon to be a three-time MVP for a reason, but I think my abilities are unique in the way I can impact the basketball game. That’s why I’m really grateful for Tim Connelly and all these guys for believing in me, bringing me in this situation to help this team become a championship team and be a top defense. That’s who I try to be every day.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves All-Star shooting guard Anthony Edwards has been looking positively Michael Jordan-esque during Minnesota’s playoff run thus far, opines Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. As Thompson writes, Edwards has been used a variety of patented moves, on both ends, that emulte the former Bulls great’s signature style — from clutch fadeaway jumpers to thorough perimeter defense to extended mid-air hang time.
  • Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray, struggling with a calf strain, has also been dealing with some shooting inconsistencies for much of these playoffs to this point. Those issues popped up again during Denver’s Game 1 defeat against the Timberwolves, according to Ryan McFadden of The Denver Post. During the Nuggets’ five-game first round series against the Lakers, Murray made just 40% of his field goal attempts and 29.4% of his three-pointers. Against Minnesota, the Kentucky vet scored 17 points on just 6-of-14 shooting from the floor.
  • Now trailing 1-0 to the Timberwolves in their second round playoff series, the Nuggets find themselves playing catch-up in a series for the first time in years, per Tony Jones of The Athletic. As Jones notes, Minnesota is one of the few teams with the kind of big, physical roster that’s truly capable of giving Denver trouble throughout the course of a series. The Nuggets will face the challenge of containing Edwards’ athletic, three-level scoring, in particular, while Minnesota’s frontline is able to at least somewhat mitigate the efficacy of Jokic, Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr.

Timberwolves Notes: Edwards, Game 1, Reid, Gobert

Anthony Edwards is putting up historic numbers, and the Timberwolves suddenly look like a legitimate threat to the defending champs, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Edwards sc0red 43 points in Minnesota’s Game 1 victory at Denver Saturday night, joining Kobe Bryant as the only other player 22 or younger with back-to-back 40-point games in the playoffs. His 119 points over the Wolves’ past three postseason games are the most in franchise history.

“To be honest, he’s a special player, I have huge respect for him, he can do everything on the floor,” Nikola Jokic said of Edwards. “You need to give him respect, how good and how talented he is.”

Edwards connected on his first five shots from the field as Minnesota made an early statement by taking an 18-4 lead. He finished 17-for-29 with seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and two blocks. He also radiated the confidence that the Wolves will need to pull off the second-round upset.

“It’s not about introducing ourselves to nobody. We know who we are,” Edwards said. “We’re coming out and as long as we got each other’s backs, it don’t really matter what anybody else thinks.”

There’s more on the Timberwolves:

  • In a post-game interview with TNT (video link), Edwards credited his Team USA experience last summer with helping to prepare him for big moments. Edwards emerged as one of the stars for the U.S. in the FIBA World Cup and he’s expected to play a major role at this year’s Olympics.
  • Even with Minnesota’s fast start, it took a strong performance from Naz Reid to get to the finish line, notes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. With Karl-Anthony Towns in foul trouble, the Sixth Man of the Year had 14 points in the fourth quarter as the Wolves took the lead for good. Reid is eager for the opportunity after missing last season’s playoffs with a wrist injury and barely playing in the 2022 postseason due to personal issues. “I just never gave up. I just fight, fight,” he said. “… Being undrafted kind of got me that edge that I have now. I have my teammates. They kept me up the whole time.”
  • Minnesota also found ways to frustrate Jokic in Game 1, Hine adds in a separate story. Even though the two-time MVP had 32 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, the Wolves forced him to turn the ball over seven times and were able to disrupt his usual offense late in the game. “Jokic is a very, very smart player, but I think I’m a very smart defender, too,” Rudy Gobert said. “Sometimes you’re going to win some of these, sometimes I’m going to win some of them, and just always try to stay a step ahead in those situations.”

Nuggets/Wolves Notes: Murray, KCP, Connelly, Edwards, Gordon

Jamal Murray was “in and out” of the Nuggets‘ two practices in the days leading up to Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals vs. the Timberwolves on Saturday, head coach Michael Malone said today. As Bennett Durando of The Denver Post writes, Murray was able to play through a left calf strain on Monday when the Nuggets closed out the Lakers, but the injury hasn’t fully healed.

“Just trying to be smart with that calf,” Malone said on Friday. “Knowing that tip-off at 5:00 tomorrow night is priority No. 1.”

When the Nuggets released their initial injury report for Game 1 on Friday, Murray was listed as questionable. However, as Durando tweets, neither the Nuggets’ messaging nor the guard’s comments have suggested that he’s in real danger of missing Saturday’s game unless he experiences a setback.

The news is even better on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who suffered a sprained left ankle on Monday. According to Durando, Caldwell-Pope was a full participant in both Thursday’s and Friday’s practices. He’s not listed on Denver’s injury report.

Here are a few more notes on the upcoming matchup between the Nuggets and Wolves:

  • There’s plenty of shared history between the two Northwest clubs, as Jon Krawczynski and Tony Jones of The Athletic detail. While it’s no secret that Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly spent years running Denver’s front office, it’s also worth noting that current Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth used to work for Minnesota. The familiarity between the Nuggets and Wolves, who are meeting in the playoffs for a second straight year, could help create the NBA’s next great rivalry, The Athletic’s duo suggests.
  • Referring to the Timberwolves as a “really dangerous” team, Nuggets star Nikola Jokic heaped praise on Minnesota guard Anthony Edwards (“He’s a really talented player who can do everything, who has everything in his arsenal”) and lauded former Denver executive Connelly for the job he has done building the Wolves, according to Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link) and Durando of The Denver Post. “I think they’re built really well,” Jokic said. “Hopefully we are not going to get swept. I think Tim Connelly, when he made that (Rudy Gobert) trade, everybody was laughing at him and what he was doing. But he made a great team. And I think he deserves great credit for doing that.”
  • Aaron Gordon will be a crucial X-factor for the Nuggets in the series, according to Sean Keeler of The Denver Post, who points to the tremendous job the forward did defending Karl-Anthony Towns in the playoffs last spring. When Gordon guarded Towns during that first-round series, the Wolves’ star shot just 37% from the field and had three times as many turnovers (9) as assists (3), Keeler notes.
  • Seerat Sohi of The Ringer provides an in-depth preview of the series, suggesting that how the Wolves fare against the defending champions will serve as a “true litmus test of their progress.”