Timberwolves, Suns fight for every inch in first half

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

3:20 pm: The sun is one quarter ahead.

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

Anthony Edwards had seven for the Wolves, but picked up two fouls.

There is a point deficit A narrow win for the Wolves, meaning Phoenix has crushed them in first quarters all season.

The focus for the Wolves all week has been to cut down on the number of turnovers they've had against Phoenix in the past few regular-season matchups. Along those lines, it was a rough start for Edwards, who had four turnovers in the first quarter. But turnover problems for the Wolves ended a tight, physical first quarter.

Phoenix's biggest lead was five as Durant made several mid-range jumpers for 11 points. The Wolves punched with some threes off the bench from Nikhil Alexander-Walker and Naz Reed.

2:40 pm: The stadium is packed with bright looks

Fans put white t-shirts on their seats to “white out” as the goal center fills up.

The Wolves' starting lineup includes 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) and Mike Consley. (11.4 points, 5.9 assists).

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

Timberwolves owner Glenn Taylor and his wife, Becky, got hugs from most of the Timberwolves players seated near the team's bench after the introductions. Across the court, limited partner Alex Rodriguez was also present.

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1 pm: Announcements by Chris Finch

Wolves coach Chris Finch has held his pregame media availability ahead of time, and here are some snippets.

About Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid, who both missed last season's series against Denver due to injuries: “Obviously we need them. They've been key performers all season. We missed them a lot last year. We have to be sure how they respond. The biggest downside to them not being in the playoffs last year is how it will help them this year. .I know their experience playing in the Memphis series.” Put them out.”

46% from three-point range in limiting Grayson Allen, who has had good games against the Wolves this season: “He's a great player, not just a shooter. He gets to the heart of defenders. Good finisher. Plays with toughness. Plays better than everybody else. You really have to slow down the ball movement. It comes down. You have to try to contain him, where they cut you off. “

Noon: How did we get here?

On paper, the rosters of the Suns and Timberwolves are not identical.

The Wolves went bigger in their makeup 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 Beale and integrating him into the mix for the Suns is similar to what Wolves had to do when Gobert joined – these big acquisitions sometimes take time to materialize.

“These 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's going to take a long, long time,” Finch said after Friday's practice. “Just like Beal didn't just know the Washington environment, Rudy didn't just know the Utah environment, and now you're asked to do different things.”

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Over the last 20 games, especially after Downs returned from a right calf injury, the Wolves began playing some of their best basketball of last season. For the Suns, Beal played in 53 of a possible 82 games. Their success percentages were almost identical. They were .600 before and after the All-Star break, but went 6-2 in April as they attempted to finish 6th.

Phoenix is ​​a regular number. Fans will fear coming into this series that 6th place is higher and given the time the team has taken to come together, it is playing at a level above where it is capable of.

“It's going to take a long time,” Finch said. “I know nobody wants to hear that anymore in pro sports, they want to do everything quickly. But it does. We've benefited from it and they're starting to find their groove now.”

11 am: Story lines and pregame reading

Our main breakthrough was a feature on Wolves' famous sixth man Nas Reid.

Patrick Reuss thinks Nikhil Alexander-Walker is a key factor for the Wolves … and Jim Chauhan says it's time for Karl-Anthony Towns to step up.

Jerry Z breaks down the matchups by position, along with a prediction for the series here.

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