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The Minnesota Timberwolves Currently Have The Suns In Absolute Hell And Show No Signs Of Letting Up

David Berding. Getty Images.

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On the season, the Phoenix Suns were 10th in the NBA in offense. Given all their injuries and the fact that they almost never had their full roster, that's pretty impressive. Their 116.2 points were also 10th, and when Booker/KD/Beal shared the floor together, the Suns ORTG bumps up to 120.5, which is a fantastic number. 

Their offense is what in theory was going to make the Suns so devastating. There aren't too many teams in the league that are prepared to consistently handle the trio of KD/Booker/Beal, and their ability to score from all three levels and do it quickly is the backbone of their team. If you focus too much attention on one of them, it allows the others to feast. 

But you know who is built to handle firepower like that?

The Minnesota Timberwolves.

You see the numbers at the top of this blog, well now let's have a look at how things are going in this series.

Suns ORTG: 98.9

Suns PPG: 94.0

Suns FG%: 44.4%

Suns 3PT%: 34.0%

Suns TOs: 17.5

The three-headed monster of KD/Beal/Booker has just a 93.6 ORTG when sharing the floor together to start this series. Look at this dropoff! Overall the team's offense drops from a 116.2 rating to 98.3. The Big 3 offense when sharing the floor has dropped from 120.5 to 93.6. I'm not sure if this is a hot take or not, but the Suns are not going to win a playoff series in 2024 if they cannot crack 100 points. 

What we're seeing is something that those who have watched have seen all year. The Wolves didn't have the #1 defense by accident, and it's no surprise that they are having this type of early success once things slow down and you can focus on one opponent. The way their roster is built is exactly what you need to go up against these high powered offenses that have elite perimeter players.

There's legit point of attack defense, the Wolves have length and quickness on the wings, and then you have the twin towers down low. You know how everyone shits on Rudy Gobert and says he gets played off the floor in the playoffs? Nope. Wrong!

Crazy what a difference it makes to have Gobert on a team where the perimeter defense wasn't complete dogshit and they needed him to bail everything out once that player got to the rim. Remember, this was the guy who players voted the most overrated player in the NBA, and he was about as dominant as you could ask for in the Wolves' biggest game of the year to date. When the Wolves are operating as a collective unit, they absolutely devastating

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You get the idea. If you were curious as to why the Wolves made this leap into contention this year, it's all rooted in their leap defensively. They were 10th last year, with a DRTG of 113.1, and finished 42-40. Making the jump from that to 1st with a 108.4 rating is what moved them up a few levels, finishing 56-26. When you look at teams who historically make this type of leap, it always starts on the defensive end. Sure it helps to have stars get better like Ant, and role players to have some internal development, but when it comes to this type of leap, it always starts and ends with how the team has improved defensively.

Why was last night so important? Well, for starters it sure as shit doesn't look like the Suns have a way to solve this puzzle. Maybe this was just a road game thing, but up and down the roster everyone not named Kevin Durant appears to be in hell. You have Devin Booker shooting 37.9%/25% to start the series, and last night he had the same amount of TOs (6) as FGM (6). Bradley Beal, they're prized supermax trade went 6-17 last night with 4 TOs of his own. All year we wondered about if the Suns' lack of depth would hurt them, and here we are in the playoffs with it being a major issue, and it certainly doesn't help that Grayson Allen got hurt. 

Here's the other reason. The Wolves are 1 of 2 teams (BOS) who did not lose 3 straight games all season. They have been as consistent as any team in the league (defense baby!), and now live in a world where the Suns need to beat them 4 out of the next 5 times to advance. Given what we saw the first two games, that feels….unlikely. If the Wolves are still able to win a game by double digits in which Anthony Edwards went 3-12 (2-6) and KAT only went 3-7 (1-4), well what do we think things will look like once those two have just average showings? 

If there's one fanbase that deserves this shit, it's MIN fans. Not only do they know nothing but pain when it comes to this stuff, but they're also currently dealing with Glenn Taylor being a gigantic dickhead when it comes to selling the Wolves. Even when things are great, there's still that bullshit to deal with which no fan should have to endure. You should be able to simply enjoy one of the more dominant teams in the league busting the superteam Suns ass for 2 straight games and completely taking control of the series.

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It goes without saying that Game 3 is the very definition of "must win" for PHX, because if they drop it and fall down 0-3, their season is over. All those "win now" moves, all the spending, it will all be for a first round loss. That's tough. I think most of us thought this was going to be a long series given the offensive firepower that PHX has, but it looks like the Wolves are ready to make a statement of their own.