Edwards and Towns lead Timberwolves into the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs for 1st time since 2004

PHOENIX (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves are off to the second round of the NBA playoffs for the first time in 20 years.

Their first-round sweep of the Phoenix Suns served notice they might be ready to go even deeper.

Anthony Edwards scored 40 points, Karl-Anthony Towns added 28 and the Timberwolves pulled away late to beat the Suns 122-116 on Sunday night and sweep the first-round playoff series.

The victory came after coach Chris Finch left the game late in the fourth after an inadvertent collision with Wolves guard Mike Conley. The team said he had a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee.

The success for Minnesota has been a long time coming, particularly for Towns, who was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in 2015 and waited nearly a decade to get his first playoff series win. Edwards is in his fourth season after being the No. 1 overall selection in 2020.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Towns said before looking at Edwards. “Playing with my man on my right just makes it more special. To be able to do it with someone I have so much admiration for, so much respect for.

“The future’s so bright for him, I’ve got to put my sunglasses on.”

The Suns swept the three-game, regular-season series from the Wolves, but Minnesota flipped that script in the postseason by wearing down a Phoenix team that had championship aspirations with their All-Star trio of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.

The 35-year-old Durant — who Edwards said was his favorite player growing up — offered nothing but praise for the young star.

“So impressed with Ant,” Durant said. “My favorite player to watch. Just grown up so much since he came into the league. His love for the game shines bright. That’s one of the reasons I like him the most, because he just loves basketball, he’s grateful to be in this position and he’s taken advantage of every opportunity he’s gotten.

“I love everything about Ant. Everything.”

The Wolves will play either the Denver Nuggets or Los Angeles Lakers in the second round. The Nuggets have a 3-1 lead with Game 5 on Monday night.

It’s understandable that the Wolves might take a day or two to enjoy this series win. Minnesota was knocked out of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, including in five games against the Nuggets last season.

They might get another crack at them soon.

The Wolves were a handful for the Suns throughout the series, flashing a deep roster that includes veteran point guard Mike Conley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, defensive star Rudy Gobert, sixth man of the year Naz Reid and Jaden McDaniels.

But there’s little doubt Edwards and Towns lead the show.

Edwards had just nine points in the first half before unloading on the Suns after the break, which was enough to overcome Booker’s 49 points. His powerful, one-handed jam late in the fourth sealed the win.

“That was the gameplan, get everyone involved,” Edwards said. “But in the second half, it’s time to win. I’ve got to shoot my shots.”

The Wolves have slowly improved under third-year coach Finch, who was replaced by assistant Micah Nori for the final 1:41 as the Wolves pulled away to win.

Nori said Finch was in good spirits after the game and will be ready to lead the team going forward.

“It’s just one series win, you don’t want to overblow it, but it’s the next step in the progression for all our guys,” Nori said.


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