Anthony Edwards And The Timberwolves Torched The Suns In Game 1

The Suns and Timberwolves got their first round series underway in Minnesota on Saturday afternoon, and after considerable conversation in the buildup about how Phoenix had owned the season series, the Wolves came out and made quite the statement with a 120-95 blowout win in Game 1.

Early on it was a back-and-forth affair with Kevin Durant putting on a shot-making exhibition to push the Suns to a 28-27 lead after the first quarter.

However, the Suns struggled to provide much offensive support for Durant, who finished with 31 points on 11-of-17 shooting. Devin Booker (18 points, 5-of-16 shooting) struggled with Minnesota’s ball pressure and while Bradley Beal was efficient, he only took 10 shots for 15 points. The Wolves were fine letting KD make tough shots (which he happily obliged) but made sure to stay attached to the Phoenix guard duo in order to gum up the works for the Suns offense (which hit just 9-of-28 from three).

As the Wolves defense turned up the heat, Minnesota’s offense was able to get in rhythm as well. Karl-Anthony Towns had it going in the first half, scoring 13 points to keep the Wolves offense rolling with Anthony Edwards dealing with foul trouble.

After taking a 10-point lead at halftime, the Timberwolves opened that lead up to 20 going into the fourth thanks to a sensational third quarter from Edwards. The young star guard was simply unstoppable, showing off his own shot-making expertise from all three levels, slicing to the rim, showing off the footwork in the midrange, and hitting some big stepbacks over Kevin Durant — and letting him know all about it.

Edwards put the exclamation point on the win with a breakaway dunk after a steal, sending the Minnesota crowd into a frenzy and giving Wolves fans some real hope that this could be the first deep playoff run in two decades.

While Edwards’ 33-point, 9-rebound, 6-assist performance was the dominant headline, he got help up and down the roster. Towns finished with 19 points and Rudy Gobert was a force inside with 14 points and 16 rebounds (six offensive). Then there was the bench contribution from Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who had 18 points and played some spectacular defense on Booker to frustrate the Suns star into a tough shooting night.

Going forward it will be interesting to see how the Suns adjust. They struggled shooting from deep and saw their best shooter, Grayson Allen, suffer an ankle sprain that limited him to 25 minutes of action. Booker has to be better and Beal has to be more active, but that’s easier said than done against the league’s best defense. Durant was terrific but the Wolves will be pretty content letting him put on a tough shot making exhibition if it means the other two stars are unable to have space to operate. Inside, they got crushed on the glass (52 to 28), with Drew Eubanks struggling off the bench as Jusuf Nurkic picked up four fouls and only played 27 minutes. Shooting variance might swing back the Suns way, but this was an inauspicious start for Phoenix.

Minnesota meanwhile will feel like they’ve got a great formula. Defensively they were able to apply ball pressure and keep Gobert on the court, which they weren’t always able to in the regular season when Phoenix was shooting well. They shot well (37.5 percent) but not unsustainably well, and were just rock solid across the board in the opener, proving they’re absolutely ready for the playoff for the playoff spotlight.