May 19, 2024

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The Timberwolves and Suns battled for every inch in the first half

The Timberwolves and Suns battled for every inch in the first half

Join us today live from Target Center for updates on Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series between the Timberwolves and Suns.

3:20 PM: The Suns lead by a goal after a quarter.

Phoenix led 28-27 in the first quarter thanks to 11 points from Kevin Durant, who scored his first nine points in the first two minutes.

Anthony Edwards scored seven goals for Wolves, but made two mistakes.

The one point deficit is A small victory for the Wolves in the sense that Phoenix has crushed them in the first quarters all season.

The focus all week for the Wolves was to reduce the number of turnovers they had early against Phoenix in the last few regular season games. That said, it was a tough start for Edwards, who had four turnovers in the first quarter. But that's where the Wolves' turnover woes ended in a tight and physical first quarter.

Phoenix's largest lead was five as Durant made a number of mid-range jumpers for 11 points. The Wolves responded with some threes off the bench from Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Naz Reid.

2:40 PM: The arena fills with a bright look

Fans wear white T-shirts to their seats for “White Out” as Target Center fills up.

The Wolves' starting lineup will include Jaden McDaniels (10.5 points, 3.1 rebounds per game), Karl-Anthony Towns (21.8, 8.3), Rudy Gobert (13.0, 12.9), Anthony Edwards (25.9, 5.4, 5.1 assists) and Mike Conley. (11.4 points, 5.9 assists).

The Suns face Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Jusuf Nurkic, and Grayson Allen.

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and his wife Becky got hugs from most of the Timberwolves players as they sat next to the team's bench after introductions. Across the field, limited partner Alex Rodriguez was also present.

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1 p.m.: Updates from Chris Finch

Wolves coach Chris Finch announced his media availability ahead of the game, here are some excerpts.

Regarding Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid, both of whom missed last season's series against Denver due to injury: “We definitely need them. They've been key players all season. We missed them a lot last year. Let's determine how they respond. I think the biggest detriment to them not being in the playoffs last year is how it will help them this year.” Just experience getting through it. They played a little bit in the Memphis series a couple of years ago, and I know they're excited so get them in there.”

On limiting Grayson Allen, who had good games against the Wolves this season and is hitting 46% from three-point range: “He's a great player, more than just a shooter. He gets to the centre-backs. He's a good player. He plays with intensity. He plays very well compared to everyone else. You really have to slow the ball down. It's about you have to try to contain him and get to your centre-backs.” They break you up a lot of threes, and the best shooter in the league will thrive in that type of offensive rhythm.”

Noon: How did we get here?

On paper, the roster construction of the Suns and Timberwolves is not similar.

The Wolves went big in their lineup with Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert while the Suns went a little smaller with Bradley Beal joining Devin Booker and Kevin Durant before the season.

But for Wolves coach Chris Finch, adding Beal and integrating him into the Suns' lineup is similar to what the Wolves had to go through when Gobert joined the team — it sometimes takes time for these big acquisitions to work out.

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“Those roles have to be adjusted and people have to figure out how to play together and play with each other and accept their role, it takes a very long time,” Finch said after Friday's practice. “For example, Bill went from just knowing the Washington environment, and Rudy went from only knowing the Utah environment, and now you're being asked to do different things.”

The Wolves started playing some of their best basketball last season in their final 20 games, especially after Towns returned from a right calf injury. For the Suns, Beal played in 53 of a possible 82 games. Their winning percentage was nearly identical before and after the All-Star break, sitting around .600, but they went 6-2 in April as they made an effort to secure the No. 6 seed.

That's what fans might fear coming into this franchise, that Phoenix is ​​more than just the typical No. 6 seed and is playing at a higher quality than where they left off, given the time it took the team to come together.

“It takes a long time,” Finch said. “And I know no one wants to hear that in professional sports anymore, they want everything to be done quickly. But it is. And we've benefited from it, and they're starting to find their groove now, too.”

11 a.m.: Storylines and pre-game reading

Our huge lead was a mark on Nas Reid, Wolves' popular sixth man.

Patrick Ross believes Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a key factor for the Wolves…and Jim Sohan says it's time for Karl-Anthony Towns to step up.

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Jerry Z breaks down the matchups site by site, with series predictions here.