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Neal: Sweep? This Wolves-Suns series may not get to Game 5

The Timberwolves, in two playoff games against the Suns, have proven that being dominated in the regular season means nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

This series might not reach five games.

Up 2-0 in this first-round series after Tuesday's 105-93 victory, the Wolves' size, depth and defensive ferocity has overwhelmed Phoenix. Dominant runs in both games have decked the Suns. And despite having wonderful scoring ability in Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, the Suns have learned that the team that plays the best defense will succeed in the Royal Rumble that is the NBA playoffs.

By the middle of the fourth quarter, fans were swaying to music during timeouts while chanting, "Wolves in four!" They might be proven right.

Their squad battled through adversity Tuesday in the first half when Anthony Edwards was searching for his offense and Karl-Anthony Towns went to the bench with three quick fouls.

Down 51-50 at halftime, the Wolves turned the game around with their defense while serving notice that they can foil Phoenix's best-made plans.

The Wolves outscored the Suns 28-20 in the third quarter and never looked back. They pulled away in the fourth quarter while Edwards was on the bench. After being held by the Suns to 14.3 points in the three regular-season meetings, Edwards exploded for 33 points in Game 1 on Saturday. On Tuesday, his offense largely sputtered, but he still contributed. In a third-quarter stretch, Edwards had six points and one assist as he found other ways to torment Phoenix.

Ant's 3-for-12 shooting performance didn't stop fans from chanting "MVP" when Edwards attempted free throws in the second half.

The Suns should be worried by that. When an opponent's best player has an off night shooting but that team still pulls away, that's trouble.

Defensively, the Wolves wore down the Suns with their tenacity and height advantage. The NBA's best regular-season defense has been on point in these two games. In a league that likes to score, the Wolves are playing defense with a sense of urgency.

"Every single time down, you've got to win your fistfight," Wolves coach Chris Finch said. "And our guys are doing it right now."

Phoenix defenders struggled to rotate when the Wolves moved the ball, opening lanes for drives or creating open looks from the arc. And the two-man game between Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley, a bond formed years ago when they were teammates in Utah, was lethal.

Lockdown defender Jaden McDaniels was having the all-around game of his life. He attacked the rim, found his range from the perimeter and helped make up for Edwards' missing points. McDaniels finished with 25 points and eight rebounds and was a game-high plus-24 on the night while hassling Durant and Booker.

When asked if this was the best version of McDaniels he's ever seen, Finch replied, "Probably."

Now they head to the Footprint Center in Phoenix looking to stay on track in a hostile gym. There are things they need to watch out for.

As much as McDaniels gave them offensively, he lost his cool with 4:15 left in the second quarter, earning a technical foul for a shoving match with Booker. They have to avoid losing their cool. Particularly McDaniels, who missed last season's playoff series after injuring his hand while punching a wall in frustration in the final game of the regular season.

Booker apparently believes he's in the middle of a robbery when he's playing the Wolves, because he often throws his hands up in dismay in order to draw fouls. All of that can work against the road team in a charged atmosphere.

Make no mistake, the Wolves have made a statement in these two games. Their opponents must make adjustments to how the Wolves have handled them, or their season is over. The Wolves have proved they can beat them in different ways. And Phoenix looks beaten down from the stifling Wolves pressure.

The Suns better pack a lunch. Or pack for the offseason.