Anthony Edwards injury could change Wolves playoff image
A day after Anthony Edwards screamed in pain as he hobbled off the floor Friday in Chicago, he was not in the lineup for the team’s game against Toronto due to a right ankle injury.
This came as no shock, considering the discomfort Edwards faced and the fact that he was wearing a walking boot after the game.
It also came as no surprise even though Wolves listed Edwards as questionable in their afternoon injury report, which they did even though Edwards is expected to undergo further ankle tests on Sunday when the team is in New York.
Coach Chris Finch said on the team’s pre-game radio show on Saturday in Toronto that Edwards was still wearing the walking boot and the injury was “not as bad as it looks.” originally feared”. He added that the team was still “weighing in” how long Edwards could be sidelined.
Although the injury is minor, there are only 10 games on their schedule after Saturday’s game against the Raptors. The biggest question Wolves now face is whether they can survive a crowded Western Conference playoff race without Edwards – for as long as he can be out. Not to mention their chances of winning a playoff series, if they can. Wolves first have to worry about getting there, a task that is now much more difficult.
“There’s not a lot of math to do,” center Rudy Gobert said after Friday’s game. “Just go out there no matter who’s out there and win games. And I hope Ant comes back as soon as he can. Hopefully KAT [Karl-Anthony Towns] come back as soon as he can. And we go out there with whoever is available and try to win games. Yes, we have great opportunities ahead of us.”
Wolves have another player due to return from injury soon, but it’s still unclear when Towns will return from his right calf injury. His return seems to be getting closer day by day; Towns tweeted a photo of a caged lion with the message “I’m waiting to be allowed to play…let the kid do what he likes” on Saturday afternoon.
Towns will give Wolves an All-Star scoring option on the floor, a player who can be the focal point of an opposing defense’s plan. It’s something they’ll miss until Edwards and Towns are on the floor, and it’ll be harder for their supporting cast to fill the gaps.
Consider this: When Edwards is on the ground, Wolves have an offensive rating of 113.7, which would rank them 16th in the league. When off the floor, their offensive rating is 106.5. Not only is Edwards the team’s top scorer, but the attention defenses have to give him can open things up for his teammates just by simply being on the ground. Wolves’ late game execution, even with Edwards, was inconsistent, and at times it deviated too much towards Edwards playing iso-ball. Wolves needed to figure out what that aspect of their game with Edwards would look like on Friday.
Wolves managed to force two overtimes against the Bulls and were in a position to win in the first overtime if not for a late turnover from Taurean Prince, thanks in part to Mike Conley and Jaden McDaniels hitting some clutch shots.
Conley said he takes it upon himself to keep the team together and keep their spirits up after a tough day Friday and recent tough losses to the Bulls and Celtics.
“I bring a lot of that to this team. I even spoke to [Prince] after the game like, ‘Man, I’ve been on teams where we’ve been in situations where we lose four, five tough games in a row by one or two points’ and all it takes is you kick down the door,” Conley said. “You see [the ball] come in, make free throws at the end, you see us stop, then you start to believe and trust the situation and not look at the scoreboard in the third quarter thinking like ‘oh shoot, that OK, it happens again.’ “
Conley hit a career-high eight threes in Edwards’ absence and was already starting to look for his shot more before Edwards went down. It will continue. Meanwhile, McDaniels, who has struggled for time this season, offered several key buckets on Friday. McDaniels is shooting 34.5 percent (10 for 29) in minutes, which the NBA defines as a game with five minutes or less remaining and the score within five minutes. He was 3 for 4 in clutch time against the Bulls. Now would be the time for him, or any other Wolves player, to warm up.
Otherwise, Wolves risk missing the playoffs in a season where they don’t have their first draft pick. All the more reason to cry out in pain.
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