Western Conference – No. 6 Suns vs. No. 3 Timberwolves

In the 3 vs. 6 matchup in the Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves clash in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs. Keep reading for a preview and prediction for this series. And make sure you check out our NBA Playoffs Betting Guide, which will serve as the hub for all of our postseason betting content!

Suns vs. Timberwolves Series Preview

For all of the concerns about the Suns, the team avoided the Play-In Tournament and got a favorable opening-round matchup. And Phoenix finished the regular season ranked ninth in adjusted offensive rating and 13th in adjusted defensive rating, according to Dunks & Threes. Also, after December 28th, the Suns went 34-18 and were top 10 in the league in both offensive and defensive rating. And they were seventh in the NBA in net rating in that span. 

 

Once Phoenix got healthy, the team started to play some good two-way basketball. Sure, there were some peaks and valleys throughout the year — and they were drastic ones. But the Suns enter the postseason after having won seven of their last 10 games, and they did it against good competition. And Phoenix’s final win of the season was a road beatdown over this Minnesota team, and both squads had something to play for in that one. But the Timberwolves had no answer for Bradley Beal, who scored 36 points in the victory. The win helped Phoenix improve to 3-0 against Minnesota this season. 

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This is just a very difficult matchup for the Timberwolves for a number of reasons. For starters, Anthony Edwards is used to being the best shooting guard on the floor. But a good argument can be made that Devin Booker is better than him. And Edwards is just 1-11 in 12 career meetings with Booker. Also, Edwards doesn’t have running mates like Beal and Kevin Durant. Sure, Karl-Anthony Towns is a very good offensive player, but is he being utilized in the best way to damage the Suns? Towns has eaten inside against Phoenix in the past, but he now operates mostly on the outside when playing with Rudy Gobert. 

The Beal dilemma is also a real one for Minnesota. Beal lit the Timberwolves up on Sunday, April 14th, and Minnesota better hope that was more of a fluke than a sign of things to come. But Beal has a significant size advantage over Mike Conley Jr., making him a tough cover for the veteran point guard. Perhaps the Timberwolves will counter that by turning to Nickeil Alexander-Walker, one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. But Minnesota would then be sacrificing quite a bit offensively, as Conley is the table setter for this young Wolves team. 

Phoenix also struggled against teams that played fast this year. But Minnesota was just 22nd in the league in pace. So, outside of the occasional Edwards highlight in transition, the Timberwolves likely won’t be looking to run the Suns off the floor. And that’s going to play right into Phoenix’s hands, as Minnesota is just 16th in the league in halfcourt offensive efficiency. That could let the Suns off the hook for being an inconsistent defensive team. 

It does work in the Timberwolves favor that they’ll have home-court advantage here. Minnesota can also sucker opponents into taking a lot of mid-range shots, and Phoenix can be a little shot-happy in that area of the court. But the Suns grew up towards the end of the regular season, showing off a healthier shot diet over the final 10 games. So, they likely won’t take the mid-range bait. And overall, Phoenix should find a way to prevail considering the talent mismatch and favorable stylistic battle. 

Lean: Suns To Win Series (-115) 

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