Timberwolves Seize Control, Take Commanding 2-0 Series Lead Over Suns

Andre Martin | Last Updated : April 25, 2024

MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Timberwolves find themselves in a position of strength, taking a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Phoenix Suns after a 105-93 victory in Game 2 on Tuesday night. The Target Center was electric as the Wolves defended their home court and seized control of the best-of-seven series, leaving the Suns searching for answers.

The game began with the Timberwolves setting the tone early, racing out to an 8-0 lead within the first 2:48, capitalizing on three early Suns turnovers. While Phoenix fought their way back into the game, they found themselves trailing 24-21 after the first quarter, shooting a dismal 7-for-20 from the field.

The second quarter saw the Suns briefly take their first lead of the game, thanks to a Jusuf Nurkic lay-up that made the score 26-24. Phoenix’s lead swelled to as many as eight points in the quarter, but the Timberwolves refused to go away, with Mike Conley’s 12 points helping Minnesota stay within striking distance, trailing 51-50 at halftime.

Tensions boiled over late in the second quarter, with Devin Booker shoving Jaden McDaniels after a physical play, and McDaniels retaliating with a shove of his own, adding an extra layer of intensity to an already heated contest.

The third quarter proved to be the turning point, with the Suns briefly taking a 63-60 lead before the Timberwolves seized control. Minnesota went on a decisive 10-0 run, flipping the script and pushing their lead to 70-63 with 3:30 left in the quarter. The Wolves outscored the Suns 28-20 in the pivotal third frame, taking a 78-71 advantage into the final period.

In the fourth quarter, the Timberwolves turned up the pressure, going on an 11-0 run that extended their lead to 93-76 with 7:51 remaining. This decisive burst effectively put the game out of reach for the Suns, who struggled to find their offensive rhythm throughout the night.

The Suns’ struggles were epitomized by their shooting woes, as they shot under 45% from the field and a mere 8-for-22 from beyond the arc. Turnovers also plagued Phoenix, with the team committing 20 turnovers that led to 31 points for the Timberwolves.

Booker, the Suns’ leading scorer, had a frustrating outing, fouling out with 2:17 left in the fourth quarter. He finished with 20 points on 6-of-13 shooting, but struggled from deep, going 1-for-6 from three-point range, and committed six turnovers compared to just five assists.

Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal, the other members of Phoenix’s star trio, were unable to pick up the slack, combining for 32 points on an inefficient 12-of-30 shooting.

The Suns’ woes were compounded by an injury to Grayson Allen, who was helped off the court with 9:17 left in the third quarter after rolling his right ankle – the same one he sprained in Game 1. Allen did not return, further depleting the Suns’ depth.

On the other hand, the Timberwolves received contributions from up and down their roster, with Jaden McDaniels leading the charge with a career-playoff-high 25 points on an efficient 10-of-17 shooting. McDaniels, known primarily for his defensive prowess, was a thorn in the Suns’ side all night, adding seven rebounds and three assists to his scoring outburst.

“We can see it. I can feel it. I can see them. It’s tough,” said Rudy Gobert, acknowledging the challenge of facing Minnesota’s suffocating defense. “No one likes going against the type of defense that we’re playing right now.”

Gobert, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, anchored the Timberwolves’ stifling defense, which limited the Suns to just 93 points – a mark Phoenix has struggled to overcome this season, sporting a dismal 1-5 record when scoring under 100 points.

While McDaniels stole the show on the offensive end, the Timberwolves received valuable contributions from their supporting cast. Mike Conley and Karl-Anthony Towns, despite being limited by foul trouble in the first half, chipped in with 18 points apiece, providing a balanced attack that kept the Suns’ defense off-balance.

“The building’s been amazing. The fans have been unreal,” said coach Chris Finch, praising the energy and support of the Minnesota faithful. “Our guys have risen to their energy, and we were locked in from the start.”

As the series shifts to Phoenix for Games 3 and 4, the Timberwolves find themselves in an enviable position, having seized home-court advantage and putting the pressure squarely on the Suns’ shoulders. However, the team remains focused, well aware that the battle is far from over.

“Don’t count us out,” Booker said defiantly after the game. “It’s a series for a reason.”

The Suns, a battle-tested team led by championship-caliber players, will undoubtedly mount a fierce comeback attempt on their home court. With their backs against the wall, they will need to rediscover their offensive rhythm, limit turnovers, and find a way to slow down the Timberwolves’ balanced attack.

For Minnesota, the key will be to maintain their defensive intensity and composure, while continuing to receive contributions from across their roster. The Timberwolves have proven their mettle on the road this season, and they will need to carry that same mentality into the hostile environment of the Footprint Center.

As the series progresses, adjustments will be made, strategies will be tweaked, and the chess match between the two coaches will intensify. But for now, the Timberwolves hold the upper hand, their confidence soaring after two impressive victories on their home court.

The path to the NBA Finals is long and arduous, but the Timberwolves have taken a significant step forward, leaving the Suns reeling and the rest of the league on notice. With their defensive tenacity, balanced scoring, and unwavering belief in their abilities, the Wolves have proven that they are a force to be reckoned with in these playoffs.

As the spotlight shifts to Phoenix, all eyes will be on the Suns, waiting to see how they respond to the adversity they now face. But for the Timberwolves, this series is an opportunity to cement their status as a legitimate title contender, a team capable of overcoming any obstacle in their pursuit of basketball’s ultimate prize.

The stage is set, the battle lines have been drawn, and the drama of the NBA Playoffs continues to unfold. For the Timberwolves and their fans, this 2-0 series lead is a testament to their hard work, dedication, and unwavering belief in themselves. But the journey is far from over, and the true test of their mettle lies ahead, as they venture into hostile territory, determined to silence the doubters and etch their names into the annals of NBA history.

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