DENVER — With Defensive Player of the Year front-runner Rudy Gobert unavailable and the defending champion Denver Nuggets needing a win to even their Western Conference semifinals series, the Minnesota Timberwolves put on a masterful defensive performance in a 106-80 Game 2 victory.

“We’ve had some really, really good defensive efforts this year, but that has to be right up there with the best of them,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. “On the ball, off the ball, the physicality, the execution of the game plan. … Just really locked in on defense.”

If holding Denver to just 34.9% shooting as a team with forceful defensive rotations and forcing 19 turnovers with a suffocating perimeter presence was Minnesota’s substance Monday, Anthony Edwards‘ 27 points and 7 assists coming in highlight-reel fashion was the team’s style.

There was the time in the first half when the 22-year-old Wolves guard dribbled between his legs to keep the Nuggets’ Reggie Jackson from stealing the ball, which caused Jackson to fall to his knees — and prompted Edwards to point at the fallen Denver guard for everyone to see what he just did to him.

Then in the second half, there was the 3-pointer he hit with 6:58 to go that he punctuated with a Michael Jordan-esque shrug as he backpedaled down the court with his team ahead by, appropriately enough, 23 points.

And about a minute later, there was the driving layup he scored while absorbing a foul from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope that Edwards celebrated with a Hulk Hogan-esque biceps bulge while he was splayed out on the floor.

“If I do something nice, I got to let it be known,” Edwards said with a smile. “Whether I get an and-1, I got to flex. Make somebody fall, I’m going to point at them. And it brings excitement to the game.”

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Edwards, selected by the Wolves with the No. 1 pick in 2020, was seated next to Karl-Anthony Towns, taken by the team at No. 1 in 2015, at the postgame dais.

Towns, who matched Edwards’ scoring total with 27 points to go with 12 rebounds and 2 blocks, enjoyed the show just like the Wolves fans tuning in to watch one of the most promising teams in the history of the franchise.

“Let me put it like this,” Towns said. “When Ant is out there talking his s—, I know that we’re in for a good night.”

The Wolves could be in for an even greater time when the series shifts to the Target Center in Minneapolis for Friday’s Game 3 (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) in the biggest home game in 20 years.

While the Nuggets’ Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic dominated the league en route to the title last spring, Edwards and Towns have been the dynamic duo to watch through the first two games.

Murray was held to 8 points on 3-for-18 shooting, 13 rebounds and 4 turnovers, and referee Marc Davis said the Nuggets point guard should have been assessed a technical foul for throwing a heating pad onto the court during live action in the second quarter. Jokic had 16 points, 16 rebounds and 8 assists, but he shot just 5-for-13 and matched Murray’s 4 turnovers.

The Wolves should be back at full strength Friday.

Gobert, who missed Monday while accompanying his partner for the birth of their first child, a baby boy, is expected to return to the lineup. Another win will put Minnesota one game away from its first conference finals appearance since 2004 and put the Nuggets on the brink of elimination.

“We’re extremely honored and blessed that we have this opportunity to go home up 2-0,” Towns said. “But, we’re humble in this approach. We understand that we’ve put ourselves in a great position, but as great as the position we are in, it could be very bad [if we do not win during] our homestand.

“So, we just got to go out there, take care of business, do what we do, play defense at a high level and execute even at a higher level because the defending champions, you can’t give them a minute of slippage at all in the game.”