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Bradley Beal leads Suns to dominating 125-106 victory over Timberwolves to clinch No. 6 seed in playoffs

© Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Bradley Beal showed that he wanted nothing else but to clinch a spot in the playoffs by dropping 36 points to help the Phoenix Suns blow out the Minnesota Timberwolves 125-106 in their regular season finale.

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“I just feel good, been a good mindset,” Beal said postgame. “My body feels good. We’re just playing some really good basketball at the right time. I’m just locked in, I’m super excited to be with this group, to have an opportunity to know that we can have a chance to win every single night.”

With the win, the Suns (49-33) swept the season series 3-0, winning all three games by double-digits. The bad news for the Timberwolves (56-26) is that the Suns will be playing them in the first round of the NBA playoffs starting next weekend. Phoenix moved up from the No. 7 seed to the No. 6 seed with the win and the Los Angeles Lakers beating the New Orleans Pelicans, as the Suns owned the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Pelicans.

Minnesota was in a three-way tie for the best record in the West with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets before the game. OKC and Denver both won, dropping Minnesota from the No. 2 to the No. 3 seed. This was the ideal situation for the Suns.

“Excited for what we do, how we continue to build on what we do. The time is now, it starts now,” Beal said.

The Suns led for 47:22 of game time, proving their dominance over Minnesota this season in their first game at Target Center.

Phoenix forced the Timberwolves to turn the ball over 24 times, including 19 in the first half. This was a season-high for turnovers for Minnesota and the most Phoenix has forced all season. The Suns turned this into 35 points off turnovers and had 13 turnovers of their own in comparison.

The Suns were cooking on both ends, as they finished shooting 55% from the floor (47-of-86) and from deep (16-of-29). Beal shot 6-for-6 from 3 and had six rebounds, five assists and two steals to go along with his 36 points. Devin Booker had 23 points and seven assists. Grayson Allen chipped in 20 points, six rebounds and two steals. Kevin Durant added 15 points, four rebounds and two steals. Jusuf Nurkić only had six points, but also had eight assists, five rebounds and tied his career high with five steals.

As they have all season,  Phoenix shut down Anthony Edwards, holding the young star to only 13 points on 3-of-7 shooting. Mike Conley kept the Wolves in the game for most of the first half, finishing with 17 points and 4-of-5 shooting from 3. Rudy Gobert picked this up after halftime, ending with 21 points and seven rebounds. Minnesota shot 36-of-70 (51%) from the floor and 9-of-26 (35%) from deep.

The Suns limited Karl Anthony-Towns to 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting in his second game back from a left meniscus tear.

“We took care of business in the regular season against them, but this is still a tough team,” Beal said. “We know that (Edwards) it a lot to deal. We know that just getting KAT back into the lineup again, they just getting adjusted, so we know that probably played a little bit into to their game tonight.

“Ultimately, we know what we can do on a daily basis, and we’re looking forward it. We look at this game as a message game looking forward, and hopefully this is an unbelievable series to come.”

Game Flow

The Suns came out on fire right away, looking like they wanted it really badly, as they connected on their first eight field goals. However, it was more than just elite shot-making, as the Suns ended the first quarter having forced 11 Minnesota turnovers. Beal carried over his high intensity from the fourth quarter of Friday’s victory over the Kings on both ends with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, two steals and a block in the quarter.

The Suns led 44-22 at the end of the first quarter.

Phoenix continued this strong defensive effort, forcing 19 Minnesota turnovers before halftime compared to six of its own. However, the Timberwolves shot 10-of-13 (77%) in the second quarter compared to 10-of-23 (44%) for Phoenix to cut the Suns’ lead down to 66-53 by halftime.

The Timberwolves were are able to get the Suns’ lead down to as little as 10 in the third quarter after Jusuf Nurkić subbed out due to picking up four fouls with 9:08 left. Rudy Gobert took advantage of Nurkić not being on the floor, scoring 15 points in the quarter alone on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and 7-of-9 from the free-throw line. However, Minnesota only outscored Phoenix 25-23 in the quarter, and it was 89-78 Suns heading into the fourth quarter. Devin Booker led Phoenix with 11 in the quarter, but was 2-of-7 from the field.

The Suns were ready to go to the playoffs in the fourth quarter, opening on an 18-6 run to behind eight early points by both Beal and Allen. This grew to a 24-11 start with 4:34 left in the game, when both coaches emptied their benches with the Suns leading 113-89. Josh Okogie led the reserves with five points to a 125-106 victory.

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Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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