'See you Game 7': Timberwolves still confident down 3-2



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DENVER — Anthony Edwards pulled a baseball cap over his head after the worst night of his young postseason career — a 5-for-15 showing in a 112-97 loss in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals Tuesday night that left his Minnesota Timberwolves on the brink of elimination — and had one last bit of banter with a member of the Denver Nuggets before making his exit.

This time, the Wolves’ 22-year-old star was engaging a Nuggets locker room attendant, bringing up a conversation the two had after Game 2, when Minnesota had jumped to a seemingly commanding 2-0 series lead.

“You jinxed us,” Edwards said with a sly smile.

“I liked our chances,” the locker room attendant chirped back. “What do you expect me to say, Ant?”

Edwards nodded and delivered a response containing the same confidence with his Wolves down 3-2 that the attendant had when the defending champions were down 0-2 more than a week ago.

“See you Game 7,” Edwards replied.

From the outside, Minnesota might be in a free fall — losing the past three games by a combined 50 points and seeing its impenetrable defense from the regular season be picked apart by league MVP Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets — but the Wolves say they still have life in them.

“It comes down to Game 6 at home and that’s exactly where we want to be,” Wolves coach Chris Finch said. “A lot of game, a lot of series left, we’ve got to force it into a Game 7, but most importantly, we’ve got to regroup, get guys focusing on what we need to do and they’ve been good at that all season. So, we’ll be ready.”

Edwards, who had averaged 33.3 points on 60.4% shooting through the first four games of the series, admitted that Denver’s defensive attention on him in Game 5 was a lot to contend with. The Nuggets were able to blanket the shooting guard with extra attention and multiple defenders all game in part because they didn’t have to worry about Wolves point guard Mike Conley.

Conley was ruled out because of a sore right Achilles, giving Minnesota one less ball handler to absorb the pressure focused on Edwards.

“This was crazy,” Edwards said of the Nuggets’ schemes centered on stopping him after he went 1-for-8 in the first half and finished with 18 points, 9 assists and 4 turnovers. “Today was crazy, for sure. Yeah, today was wild.”

Conley landed awkwardly on his right leg while attempting a corner 3 late in Game 4 and was unable to play Tuesday after testing out his Achilles during pregame warmups.

“We’re hopeful Mike can go in Game 6,” Finch said. “That was one of the reasons to be cautious with him right here, feeling that he could go [on Thursday].”

Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who had been just 10-for-27 from the field with 6 assists in the series coming into Game 5, scored 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting with 5 assists starting in Conley’s place.

“Nickeil did a great job of filling in there in the starting role,” Finch said. “It would have been great to have Mike out there and Nickeil off the bench, but we didn’t have that. But Nickeil did a good job.”

When asked by ESPN about his status for Game 6 on Tuesday night, Conley declined to answer.

Karl-Anthony Towns, who led Minnesota with 23 points on 10-for-19 shooting after struggling in Game 4, said that the Wolves are battle-tested for this moment.

“Adversity has been something we’ve answered all year,” Towns said. “It’s something that if I was to go through this with anyone, I would go through it with these guys in this locker room. I have full confidence in these guys, I have full confidence in our locker room, I have confidence in our coaching staff.

“Everyone has been tremendous all year. It’s now time to put all that experience and that unity we’ve built throughout the whole year, even last year, and put it on the table and play our best basketball so we can give ourselves a chance to bring back Game 7 here.”

Edwards expressed similar confidence when he spoke to reporters as he did when he spoke to the locker room attendant.

“Super excited,” Edwards said. “You get to compete. Get to go home and play with our backs against the wall. It should be fun.”



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