The 20-year-old scored a game-high 36 points to stun the Western Conference’s number two seed in their own backyard at the FedExForum, dazzling in a statement win for a T-Wolves team that only reached the playoffs via the play-ins.
Adding two rebounds and six assists, Edwards became the third youngest player in NBA history – and only one of four under the age of 21 – to score 35 points in a playoff game, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
With only Derrick Rose and Tyler Herro achieving such a haul at a younger age, it was a feat made all the more impressive considering it was Edwards’ first ever taste of the playoffs – not that he was in any way overwhelmed by the occasion.
“I didn’t feel any different,” Edwards told reporters after the game. “It’s like a regular season game to me.”
Battle of youth
Center Karl Anthony Towns and guard Malik Beasley added 29 and 23 points for the Timberwolves, with Edwards singling out the performance of forward Jaden McDaniels as “the MVP of the game.”
With 15 points, seven rebounds and two assists, the Timberwolves were a net +19 points while the 21-year-old McDaniels was on court.
“He was the best player on the floor for us, no doubt,” Edwards said.
And with 22-year-old Ja Morant leading scoring for the Grizzlies with 32 points, it was a night that emphatically underlined the sheer quality of young talent in the NBA.
Though tailing off towards the game’s end, an electric start from Morant saw him go five for five, finishing the game with four rebounds and eight assists.
An enthralling match-up with his opposing guard marked the first time in NBA history that opposing players aged 22 or younger had both scored 30 points in a playoff game, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
Trash talk motivation
Yet the night ultimately belonged to Edwards, who will now look to drive his team closer to a famous upset in Memphis on Tuesday.
His performance in Game 1 will have done little to quell the hostile reception the 20-year-old is likely to receive, but that’s exactly the way Edwards likes it.
“I think Memphis fans ignite my game when we’re playing here because they talk so much trash,” Edwards said.
“Even the kids – the kids was the worst today. Even eight-year-olds, 10-year-olds, ‘Anthony, go sit down! You suck!’
“It’s just fun, basketball is fun to me, I love it … Whatever the crowd gonna do, they gonna do. I ain’t gonna get into it though.”
Youngsters star as Curry returns
Elsewhere in the Western playoffs, Steph Curry’s long-awaited return from injury inspired the Golden State Warriors to an emphatic 123-107 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
The eight-time All-Star wasted no time in getting to work after his absence with an ankle injury, hitting a trio of threes en route to 16 points, as well as adding three rebounds and four assists.
Yet another youngster stole the limelight though, as Curry’s 22-year-old teammate Jordan Poole drained a game-high 30 points in his playoff debut.
In the other Western series of the night, the Utah Jazz triumphed 99-93 over a Dallas Mavericks team reeling from the injured absence of star man Luka Dončić.
With 21-year-old Tyrese Maxey scoring 38 in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 131-111 victory over the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern playoffs, the tally of 30-point performances by players 22 or younger rose to four. Before Saturday, there had never been more than two on the same night, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
The future is definitely bright for the NBA.