MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Anthony Edwards is sharing the NBA’s brightest lights with one of the league’s most talked about young stars in Ja Morant.
And Edwards has stepped boldly into the playoff spotlight.
Edwards outdueled Morant and took some of the shine off the All-Star point guard in Game 1 helping Minnesota grab home-court advantage from Memphis. Morant still had his share of high-flying highlights to make clear their entertaining first-round series is far from over.
The Timberwolves’ young star credits Memphis’ fans — not facing off against Morant — for igniting his game.
“They talk so much trash,” Edwards said. “Even the kids! The kids was the worst ones. Even eight years old, 10 years old, ‘Anthony go sit down! You suck!’ It’s just fun. Basketball is fun to me. I love it.”
This series probably won’t be the last time Edwards goes toe-to-toe with Memphis’ MVP candidate. Their budding Western Conference rivalry was only part of the show put on by young talented players who embraced the opening of the NBA playoffs.
Tyrese Maxey got the postseason going with a 38-point performance for Philadelphia in his second NBA postseason. Edwards followed with 36 points in his debut, while Morant countered with 32. Jordan Poole finished with 30 points Saturday for Golden State in his first postseason game starting for Stephen Curry.
It was the first time the NBA had more than two 30-point playoff performances on the same day by players 22 or younger. Edwards and Morant were the first 22 or younger to score at least 30 points in the same playoff game in NBA history.
And Edwards is the youngest of that group at 20.
The 2020 No. 1 overall pick snatched some of the attention away from Morant, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft and 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year. Morant led Memphis to its highest playoff seeding ever at No. 2 overall and the second-best record in the league with 56 wins.
“I think he’s comfortable with a lot more things that he’s seeing out there,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said of Edwards. “He’s just doing everything, not holding and he’s not surveying as much he’s just going and that’s a sign of really trusting your own talent.”
All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns believes Edwards is just scratching the surface of his potential and talent.
“He’s a special talent,” Towns said of Edwards, who turns 21 Aug. 5. “He’s shown it night in and night out. When he’s playing basketball at this kind of level, he’s almost unstoppable. He is unstoppable actually.”
This is the first time Minnesota and Memphis have met in the playoffs, but it could be the first of many thanks to their budding superstars.
Morant and Edwards share much in common. Both are part of two of the NBA’s youngest teams rebuilding around high draft picks. Neither the Grizzlies nor Timberwolves are shy about confidently saying how good they already are or believing they deserve more time on the NBA’s national stage.
A couple of the players’ fathers seem to believe there will be more Minnesota-Memphis showdowns on the horizon. Tee Morant and Karl Towns Sr., who hugged each other late in Minnesota’s Game 1 win, apparently have a friendly bet on this series with the loser wearing the jersey of the winner’s son.
It is clear the families are enjoying the show, and so are basketball fans.
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