Is this the start of the Anthony Edwards era? Why the Minnesota Timberwolves can win the 2024 NBA Championship


Over the last five NBA seasons, the Denver Nuggets have gone down 0-2 in a playoff series on four occasions.

In 2020, they were beaten in five games by LeBron James and the Lakers – eventual champions.

In 2021, they were swept by the 51-win Suns who went on to the Finals.

In 2022, the Golden State Warriors booted them out in the first round en route to the dynasty’s fourth championship.

Now, in 2024, Denver faces the challenge of travelling to the Target Center in Minneapolis to keep the series alive against a brutal Minnesota Timberwolves outfit who took a 2-0 series lead against them on their home court.

But can the defending champions return serve in Minnesota, or does the Anthony Edwards era start now?

For Jokic and the Nuggets to pull off a comeback, it has to start in Game 3 – no team has ever recovered from a 3-0 deficit in NBA Playoff history. But if Game 2 is anything to go by, I don’t like Denver’s chances.

Boasting the highest defensive rating in the league, the Timberwolves left Denver’s offence rattled as they held them to a season-low 80 points after humiliating them with the largest half-time deficit in Nuggets Playoff history, establishing a 26-point advantage.

Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

What’s more, they did all this in the absence of centre Rudy Gobert, who was awarded his fourth Defensive Player of the Year award the following day.

With Gobert back in the lineup at home, it’s difficult to imagine the intensity of Edwards and the Timberwolves dialling down in this series.

Could Denver go back to their old ways and pull apart the defence with Jokic running the floor as they weaponise the shooting of Michael Porter Jr., the athleticism of Aaron Gordon, and the scoring of Jamal Murray? Sure. But there’s very good reason to believe that they can’t.

Minnesota boasts the unique quality of having two elite seven-foot defenders in Karl-Anthony Towns and Gobert.

Denver struggles to break this unit down because the T-Wolves have the luxury of allowing the more mobile Towns to limit Jokic’s space around the perimeter, while Gobert can stay home and protect the rim from any unwanted guests catching the Joker’s lobs.

And when they need a break on the bench? Sixth man of the year Naz Reid comes on to bring more length and defensive quality.

“They did the job… they did it in incredible fashion defensively and offensively… it was something that I’ll never forget.” ????

Rudy Gobert on Minnesota’s dominant Game 2 performance

— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 7, 2024

Aside from the Timberwolves’ towering defenders, they have the likes of Edwards, Kyle Anderson, Mike Conley Jr. and Jaden McDaniels to hold down the fort everywhere else on the floor.

If they can beat the Nuggets, they can beat anyone.

If they make the Conference Finals, they will come up against either the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Dallas Mavericks, and I’d be backing the Timberwolves in either contest.

Against Dallas, a team that has built their identity on the ability to score the basketball, Minnesota can work to force Kyrie Irving and Luka Dončić into taking tough shots and should have no problem whatsoever handling the Maverick’s bigs in Dereck Lively II and Daniel Gafford despite some good form from the pair.

On the flipside, they boast the best matchup against Oklahoma remaining in the Playoffs.

With a mobile seven-footer in Towns to play man-on defence against runner-up Rookie of the Year Chet Holmgren and Gobert to protect the rim, they have all the height they need.

Add in the size of McDaniels and Anderson to cover threats like Giddey and Williams, as well as Conley and Edwards to do what they can against runner-up MVP Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and you have yourself a defence that can slow down the third-best offensive team in the association.

Ant knows how to put on a show. ????

— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) May 7, 2024

If they do come out of the Western Conference, they would likely be the favourite to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy when it’s all said and done.

Personally, I can’t foresee a future where either the Celtics or Knicks are not crowned kings of the East, and I like Minnesota’s matchup against both sides.

If they face the league-leading Boston Celtics, the same story goes with their size across the court.

But even more importantly, they have Jaden McDaniels – who just proved himself against the great Kevin Durant – to slow down Jayson Tatum.

Having said that, Jrue Holiday will undoubtedly be given the assignment of pestering Edwards on defence – which could very well play into Boston’s favour.

What’s more, the Celtic’s league-leading ability to knock down threes could see them build a huge scoreboard deficit, especially if Edwards takes his time to warm into the contest as he did in Game 2 against the Nuggets.

If the Knicks advance to the Finals, I see Minnesota making light work of them.

Although Brunson – quite deservedly – receives most of the credit for the Knickerbockers’ successes, it’s important to note that they are ranked first in the league for offensive rebounding.


— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) May 7, 2024

However, these numbers will likely decrease against the size of Minnesota, especially in the absence of Julius Randle, therefore giving New York fewer opportunities for points as a key element of their game will be limited.

A championship in the city of Minnesota would be huge. It would boost the resumes of four-time DPOY Gobert and one of the best shooting big men we’ve ever seen in KAT.

The 17-year veteran Mike Conley would cap off his career with the most coveted piece of silverware in the basketball world, and Ant-Man would become a 22-year-old NBA Champion.

But the Timberwolves as a franchise have never even made the Finals. Their deepest playoff run came in 2004 when Kevin Garnett led them to the Conference Finals, only to be knocked out in six games against none other than Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Since the merging of the NBA and ABA in 1976, only six franchises have won the Finals on their first trip to the big stage.

The 1977 Portland Trailblazers, led by Bill Walton.

The 1991 Chicago Bulls, led by Michael Jordan.

The 1999 San Antonio Spurs, led by Tim Duncan.

The 2006 Miami Heat, led by Dwyane Wade.

The 2019 Toronto Raptors, led by Kawhi Leonard.

The 2023 Denver Nuggets, led by three-time MVP Nikola Jokic.

My prediction is that, by the end of this playoffs, we’ll be adding another team to that list – the 2024 Minnesota Timberwolves, led by the great Anthony Edwards.

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