Tuesday, May 21 2024
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The Minnesota Timberwolves really hoped they’d be done with the Phoenix Suns when they faced them on the final day of the regular season. The Suns won their first two regular-season matchups by double digits, but if Minnesota could just steal the season finale, it could not only secure the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, but relegate the Suns to the Play-In round.

Instead, the Suns made it a clean sweep of the season series, and now the Timberwolves will have to beat them four times out of seven just to make it through the first round. They’ll have to do so while reintegrating Karl-Anthony Towns into the lineup after missing most of the end of the season due to a knee injury, and they are facing a Suns team that, while more recently constructed, has far more playoff experience in the aggregate.

So can Minnesota overcome its recent struggles against Phoenix? Or will the Suns upset the Timberwolves in this No. 3 vs. No. 6 battle? Here’s everything you need to know before Game 1.

Timberwolves vs. Suns

  • Date: Saturday, April 20 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Target Center — Minneapolis
  • TV channel: ESPN | Live streamfubo (try for free)
  • Odds: Timberwolves -1.5; O/U 214.5

Storylines

Timberwolves: The Suns were built in a lab to bother Minnesota’s defense, specifically. Rudy Gobert is the league’s best drop-coverage defender. You beat drop-coverage with mid-range jumpers. The Suns took more of them this season than anyone but Chicago and made a higher percentage than anyone but Indiana. Good luck letting Kevin Durant and Devin Booker settle into clean mid-range looks. So what’s Minnesota’s pivot? Can Gobert successfully defend at the level of the screen? Or will head coach Chris Finch have something else up his sleeve?

Suns: We all know Phoenix can score. Getting stops will be the bigger issue. The Suns got a favorable draw in that the Timberwolves are only an average offense. That still doesn’t mean they have an easy answer for Anthony Edwards. Who is Phoenix even going to try on Minnesota’s All-Star guard? Will they deploy all-defense, no-offense specialists like Josh Okogie? Or will they make the best of a bad situation with their scorers?

Prediction

This is going to be a back-and-forth series, but the initial matchups favor Phoenix. The Timberwolves will need time to adjust their scheme to beat the Suns. For now, I’m taking Phoenix to throw the opening punch. The Pick: Suns -1.5

Source: CBSSports.com

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