3 Keys for Suns Rebound in Game 2 vs. Timberwolves | 2024 NBA Playoffs

Suns' Depth Concerns Highlighted in Playoff Opener

by Nouman Rasool
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3 Keys for Suns Rebound in Game 2 vs. Timberwolves | 2024 NBA Playoffs
© Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns, despite their favoritism as the Western Conference's sixth seed against the third-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves, faced a shocking setback in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. In a disheartening defeat, they succumbed to a 120-95 blowout in Minneapolis.

Led by Anthony Edwards' stellar performance with a game-high 33 points, the Timberwolves exposed the Suns' vulnerabilities on both ends of the court, leaving Phoenix with significant ground to reclaim in Game 2. Given their previous dominance over Minnesota this season, the Suns have a prime opportunity to bounce back and even the series on Tuesday.

Here are three key areas where Phoenix must excel to alter the series trajectory: Both Phoenix and Minnesota boasted top-five rankings in 3-point shooting percentage throughout the regular season. However, in Game 1, the Suns faltered beyond the arc, shooting a lackluster 32.1%.

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves managed a slightly better 37.5%. With their offense heavily reliant on perimeter scoring, the Suns must see a resurgence in their shooting accuracy. Stars like Kevin Durant emphasized the importance of capitalizing on these opportunities, urging teammates to step up and deliver clutch shots.

Despite potential setbacks like Grayson Allen's questionable status due to an ankle injury, Phoenix's historical performance against Minnesota suggests a strong likelihood of improvement.

Bench Scoring Woes

Phoenix struggled with bench scoring throughout the regular season, ranking last in the league in this aspect.

Game 1 only magnified this deficiency as the Suns' bench was outscored 41-18, with only 14 points coming from reserve forward Royce O'Neale. Relying heavily on their Big 3 won't suffice in playoff matchups. The Suns need secondary contributors to emerge and provide much-needed offensive support to diversify their scoring options and alleviate pressure on their primary stars.

Despite their respectable regular-season rebounding stats, the Suns were thoroughly outrebounded 52-28 in Game 1, with Rudy Gobert dominating the glass against Jusuf Nurkic. To counter Minnesota's imposing frontcourt presence, Phoenix must display greater tenacity and aggression on the boards.

Nurkic, in particular, needs to elevate his performance and assert himself more effectively in the rebounding battle to neutralize the Timberwolves' advantage in this crucial area.

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