NBA playoffs: Timberwolves run roughshod over Nuggets to force Game 7

The Minnesota Timberwolves have given us a Game 7.

Flexing the defensive muscle that made them the stingiest team in the NBA during the regular season, the Timberwolves blew out the Denver Nuggets 115-70 in Game 6 on Thursday to keep their season alive. Game 7 is scheduled for Sunday in Denver (time TBD).

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - MAY 16: Anthony Edwards #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates against the Denver Nuggets during the fourth quarter in Game Six of the Western Conference Second Round Playoffs at Target Center on May 16, 2024 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Anthony Edwards wanted Game 7. He got it. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

The margin of victory was the second largest by a team facing elimination in NBA history.

Anthony Edwards, who powered the win with 27 points, seemed ready for the first Game 7 of his career. Minnesota outscored the Nuggets by 43 while he was on the floor, a franchise playoff record.

The entire game was a stunning reversal of momentum in the series. The Nuggets entered Thursday having won the last three games, having looked most impressive in a Game 5 blowout. The Timberwolves needed a lift and got it from a raucous Target Center crowd.

That crowd got what it wanted early. After a back-and-forth few minutes, the Timberwolves ripped off a 27-2 run to build up a lead that would never fall below double-digits. The game wasn't over by then, but the Nuggets were on their back foot for the first time since their lopsided losses in Games 1 and 2.

Denver tried to adjust with a lineup change to start the second quarter. Typically, league MVP Nikola Jokić gets his rest by sitting on the bench to start the second and fourth quarters, but he was out there when the action resumed. The move paid short-term dividends, narrowing a 17-point lead at the start of the frame to 11.

The Timberwolves responded with a 13-0 run to take back control, and finished the half with a Jaden McDaniels buzzer-beater.

The lead never went below 19 points in the second half, but the Timberwolves saw a different kind of scare late in the third quarter when Edwards went down hard on a foul. He remained facedown on the court and nearly motionless for more than a minute, but remained in the game and didn't seem very hobbled.

Minutes later, with their team on a 24-0 on a run to stretch the lead to 49, the Timberwolves crowd was chanting "Wolves in seven."

The Timberwolves figure to enter a different atmosphere Sunday.

As impressive as it looked Thursday, Minnesota will be entering the house of a defending champion and the league MVP. The Nuggets have already shown this series they can rebound from a dispiriting loss, having gone from a 26-point defeat in Game 2 to a 27-point win in Game 3.

It's going to be a hostile crowd in Denver against a team with better playoff experience, in a series defined by wild swings of fortune. The Timberwolves obviously shouldn't regret beating the Nuggets by 45, but they should know very well that Game 6's performance won't mean much once the ball is tipped again.