The association’s No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense squared off at Target Center on Monday night, each flashing the brilliance that makes them (currently) the best. Jayson Tatum muscled his way through the Minnesota Timberwolves’ league’s best defense on occasion, while Rudy Gobert stifled countless Boston Celtic shots near the rim.
But neither held a candle to Anthony Edwards’ dominance.
there. he. goes. pic.twitter.com/ma6Mdiv35u— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) November 7, 2023
Edwards scored on three straight possessions in overtime, nearly blowing the lid off the Target Center roof. After the final overtime horn sounded, Edwards’ on-court postgame interview couldn’t be heard as MVP chants rained down from the crowd.
The Atlanta native made 15 of his 25 shot attempts on the evening, while pulling down nine rebounds and adding eight assists. Eight of Edwards’ points came in the extra frame, as he continued to be aggressive on both ends of the floor despite playing with five fouls.
A thriller down to the final buzzer, the Celtics and Wolves traded buckets down the stretch of the fourth quarter with Edwards, Tatum and Brown generating chances to capture victory but coming up short. Regulation proved not enough, as the game went to overtime after Edwards and Brown missed game-altering threes with less than 30 seconds left.
It wasn’t a mistake-free game by any stretch, with the Wolves turning the ball over and then committing a shot clock violation in a critical period of the final quarter. Free throws were an issue as well, particularly with Gobert, who finished the game 2-for-11 from the line.
A question mark entering the game was Jaden McDaniels’ ability to stay out of foul trouble against a big, strong wing in Jayson Tatum. Roughly halfway through the opening frame, McDaniels committed a silly reach-in foul, throwing away one of his often-used six fouls. That was his only foul of the first half, however, and one of only three fouls in a game that featured an extra five minutes of play.
McDaniels added timely offensive input as well, finishing with 20 points including big shots in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Celtics’ defense bothered him in the first half, but he was able to find his stride later in the contest
“He was frustrated the shot wasn’t going in, and they weren’t guarding him honestly in the first half. He just needed to see one go in, and he stuck with it while guarding really well throughout. He didn’t get frustrated by it,” Head Coach Chris Finch said postgame on McDaniels’ performance.
The Boston defense that bothered McDaniels’ early was chameleon-like to begin, seemingly different every possession. Jrue Holiday took on anyone and everyone, checking Towns and Gobert in the post and also stepping up to guard Mike Conley and Anthony Edwards.
It wasn’t enough to slow down the pairing of Edwards and Reid in the first half, though, as they combined for 31 of Minnesota’s 52 points. Reid’s injection of offense seemingly woke the Wolves up, as two 3-pointers and an and-one got them rolling late in the first quarter.
A 9-0 spurt with four minutes remaining in the opening quarter gave Minnesota the lead, with a Reid 3-pointer — as well as a an Edwards and-one — causing the Target Center crowd to erupt with cheer.
that's Naz Reid. that's his spot. pic.twitter.com/0IUvVgu6YG— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) November 7, 2023
The Wolves offense ground to a halt to start the second quarter, scoring their first points just before the 9:00 mark. It quickly turned around, as Edwards continued to carve up the Celtics’ defense to the tune of 25 points through the first half of the third quarter.
Minnesota continued to shoot well in the second half, with Towns knocking down a few shots to get himself rolling. Scoreless through the first half, Towns came alive and scored nine points in the third frame. However, his run was stunted by an and-one call that was overturned to an offensive foul that sent him back to the bench with just over three minutes to go in the third.
A back-and-forth battle into the fourth, Edwards was forced to sit after picking up his fifth foul while guarding Tatum. With Edwards off the floor, Tatum found a bit of a rhythm and kept Boston in the game after a hitting a stepback 3-pointer and a layup through contact.
Tatum and Edwards traded buckets and game-changing plays down the stretch, with the stars battling in a playoff-like atmosphere. Edwards made a swing play with roughly five minutes remaining, in which he shut down a Tatum drive attempt and forced him into a prayer 3-point attempt. Immediately after, Edwards passed up a shot and found McDaniels open for a triple that he knocked down.
“He loves the moment, and guys who love the moment are few and far between,” Finch said about Edwards.
Edwards’ maturity was tested in a game that featured a battle-tested Celtics squad, and he answered by enforcing his will with one-on-one defense, timely buckets and a few unselfish plays in critical moments.
Anthony Edwards when asked about accepting the challenge of guarding Jayson Tatum:— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) November 7, 2023
"He got the stop on me at the end of the game. And he was talkin smack at the jump ball at overtime. And I told him, 'I'm comin again'. Luckily, he called me up for an iso and tried to iso me, and… pic.twitter.com/lWUeR41HDm
Gobert’s performance won’t steal any headlines, but he was masterful on defense yet again. His strong start to the season only got stronger after Monday evening, as his 14-point, 12-rebound stat line doesn’t quite highlight his impact.
The Timberwolves will host the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday at Target Center. The game will be broadcast on Bally Sports North with tip scheduled for 7:00 p.m.