by TERESA M. WALKER
Memphis, Tenn. Anthony Edwards shares the NBA’s brightest lights with one of the league’s most recent young stars, former Crestwood star Ja Morant.
And Edwards boldly stepped into the spotlight.
Edwards outplayed Morant and took some brilliance from his all-star guard in Game 1, helping Minnesota snatch the home ground advantage from Memphis. Morant still has his share of high-flying highlights to make it clear that the entertaining first-round streak is far from over.
The young Timberwolves star credits Memphis fans – who never encountered Morant – for reigniting his game.
“They talk a lot about trash,” Edwards said. Even the kids! The kids were the worst. Even at eight, 10 years old, ‘Anthony go and sit!’ You raunchy! “It’s just fun. Basketball is fun for me. I love it.”
This streak probably wouldn’t be the last time Edwards went toe-to-toe with the Memphis MVP nominee. Their budding rivalry in the Western Conference was only part of the display by the talented young players who embraced the NBA playoffs opening.
Therese Maxi earned the postseason with a 38-point performance for Philadelphia in his second season in the NBA. Edwards followed him with 36 points on his debut, while Morant scored 32. Jordan Paul finished Saturday with 30 points for Golden State in his first post-season game with Stephen Curry.
It was the first time the NBA had more than two 30-point playoff shows on the same day for players 22 or less. Edwards and Morant were the first 22 or fewer to score at least 30 points in the same playoff game in NBA history.
Edwards is the youngest in that group at twenty years old.
The #1 overall pick for 2020 has drawn some attention away from Morant, who ranked second overall in the 2019 draft and 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year. Morant led the Memphis to the highest-grossing supplement rating ever with a second overall and second best record in the league with 56 wins.
“I think he’s comfortable with a lot of the things he sees there,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said of Edwards. “He just does it all, he doesn’t hold on to it and he doesn’t scan as far as he just goes and that’s a sign of really confidence in your talent.”
All-star player Karl-Anthony Towns believes Edwards is scratching the surface of his potential and talent.
Townes said of Edwards, who will complete on August 21. “He’s a special talent. He’s shown it day and night. When he plays basketball at that kind of level, he’s almost unstoppable. 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 stars.
Morant and Edwards have a lot in common. Both are part of two of the youngest teams in the NBA rebuilding around high draft picks. Neither the Grizzlies nor the Timberwolves are shy about saying with confidence how good they really are or think they deserve more time on the national stage in the NBA.
Parents of two players seem to think there will be more confrontations between Minnesota and Memphis on the horizon. T-Morant and Karl Towns Sr., who hugged each other late in Minnesota’s Game 1 win, seem to be making a friendly bet on the series with the loser wearing the winner’s son’s shirt.
The families obviously enjoy the show as well as the basketball fans.