Three stars from Monday’s slate of NBA playoff games
New York Knicks guard Josh Hart. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Three stars from Monday’s slate of NBA playoff games

New York won another game with controversial calls that went down to the wire. Minnesota looked more like contenders than the defending champs. Here are three stars from Monday’s NBA playoffs. 

For the record, Jalen Brunson was also fantastic, but we’ve covered his performance elsewhere.

New York Knicks forward Josh Hart | 24 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists

For the third time in seven playoff games, Josh Hart didn’t sit for a second. It didn’t seem to leave him tired in Game 1, when he scored 24 points, collected 13 rebounds, dished eight assists and got three steals.

Hart consistently drove and found Isaiah Hartenstein (13 points) for short jumpers, but even when his center missed, Hart’s relentless rebounding led to points anyway.

Indiana may complain about some of the officiating late, but what really killed them was Tyrese Haliburton getting the ball stolen from him three times in the final minutes. Twice OG Anunoby took it away, and the last steal was by the tireless Hart.

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns | 27 points, 12 rebounds

Rudy Gobert missed Game 2 after the birth of his child, and the Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t miss a beat. Karl-Anthony Towns slid over to center and the Timberwolves shut down the Denver Nuggets, 106-80, holding the defending champions to just 35 first-half points.

Towns did his best Gobert impression by blocking two shots, grabbing 12 rebounds and generally playing the best defense of his career. Nikola Jokic only scored 16 points, and Towns helped frustrate Jamal Murray’s drives.

Murray got so frustrated he threw a heat pack at Kyle Anderson during the first half. Appropriately, Towns turned it into two of his 20 first-half points in a game that was effectively over at halftime.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards | 27 points, seven assists

The statistics don’t tell the whole story of how badly Edwards shook the Nuggets Monday night. Denver has a lot of great players, but no one on the roster who could match Edwards’ speed and force. 

Aaron Gordon is one of the NBA’s top defenders, and Edwards made him look like one of the Washington Generals trying to slow down the Harlem Globetrotters.

Edwards had 16 points in the first half, meaning he and Towns outscored the whole Nuggets team in the first half, 36-35. The entire Wolves team terrorized the Nuggets on the defensive end, and a lot of credit should go to Jaden McDaniels, Naz Reid and Towns. 

But Edwards was also relentless, and when the Wolves forced a stop or a turnover, he attacked Denver with no hesitation.

It was a Michael Jordan-esque performance from Edwards Monday, whose Wolves are now 6-0 in the playoffs. For anyone who was doubting them, he even added an MJ shrug late.

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