For Timberwolves, the faster they can finish off Phoenix, the better

  • The Timberwolves and Phoenix will face off in Game 4 of their playoff series at 8:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time on Sunday. Watch on BSN, TNT or 100.3 FM.

PHOENIX — After the Timberwolves’ Game 3 victory over the Suns on Friday, Anthony Edwards was asked if the Wolves had broken Phoenix’s spirit.

Answer: “Nope.”

Minnesota leads the best-of-seven series 3-0 heading into Sunday’s Game 4, but it’s not over. Not officially.

“We don’t think we broke their spirit until we win Game 4. We’ve gotta win Game 4 and then we can say we broke their spirit,” Edwards said. “You never know, man, a lot of crazy things happen.”

Tip off for Game 4 is set for 8:30 p.m. CDT Sunday in Phoenix.

“We can’t think that they’re going to give us the game because they’re down 3-0. They want to win a game. They don’t want to go out and get swept,” Edwards added. “We’ve got to come out and be ready to compete at a high level, even more than we did in the first three games. We’re gonna be ready.”

Entering Saturday’s playoff slate, NBA teams were a combined 0-151 in best-of-seven series after going down 0-3. So, the odds are certainly stacked heavily in Minnesota’s favor, particularly considering how convincing all three of the Wolves’ wins in this series have been.

Still, as Edwards noted, anything can happen.

“If you wanna pick any team to make a comeback, it would have to be us,” Phoenix guard Eric Gordon told reporters Saturday. “With the firepower we have, when chemistry is going right, then we’re a pretty deadly team.”

Certainly, chemistry has been going wrong for Phoenix thus far. But switches can flip. Things can turn. One good performance can lead to another. Players are motivated to avoid getting swept. The broom can serve as the ultimate sign of embarrassment for a professional athlete.

“I’ve never been swept a day in my life,” Suns guard Brad Beal said. “So, I’ll be (darned) if that happens.”

Edwards wouldn’t allow it a year ago for the Wolves. With his team trailing Denver 3-0 in the first round, the all-star guard poured in 34 points in an overtime victory in Game 4.

“I take pride. I didn’t want to say I got swept,” Edwards said after that game. “I don’t ever want to say I got swept in my career.”

Then, in Game 5 in Denver, Minnesota pushed the Nuggets to the end. Edwards missed a shot at the horn that would have sent the game to overtime. Pride matters. If Phoenix displays some Sunday, the Suns will be a tough out.

“We’ve got to stay resilient,” Wolves guard Mike Conley said. “I think in all three games, we’ve been hit with adversity at different points, and that’s something that we’re going to have to be challenged with in Game 4. It’s not easy in closeout games at all, especially on the road. So, we’re going to have to be double ready to go. We have to be to all the loose balls. We have to get all the 50-50 chances and just be the team that’s more determined.”

Because while Minnesota has four chances to win one game, taking care of business as soon as possible would be advantageous for the Wolves. Minnesota had a week off between the end of the regular season and Game 1 of the first round and used that time to effectively flip the script on Phoenix after the Suns swept the Wolves in the regular season.

Coming out of that break, Minnesota is playing some of its best basketball of the campaign.

“We really benefited from that week off, for sure,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said.

Denver had a chance to complete a sweep of the Lakers on Saturday night in Los Angeles. Should Minnesota finish its job Sunday in Phoenix, the Wolves will have another week off before likely starting their Western Conference semifinal series next weekend. That matters.

“My first times in the playoffs, I wasn’t able to prepare like that because we was in the play-in game,” Edwards said. “For me, I’ll say it was super important (to have that week off). I got in the best shape of my life that week. I was able to really understand, like, a playoff game (while) playing and learn how to execute everything and seeing how everything goes. It was definitely fun for me. That was the best thing ever, being able to prepare for a week. The coaching staff did a phenomenal job man, I will say that.”

Earning similar time off ahead of the next round could prove equally as advantageous.


Phoenix coach Frank Vogel said Suns guard Grayson Allen didn’t do much again in Saturday’s practice. Allen missed Game 3 on Friday after re-injuring his sprained ankle in the third quarter of Game 2. Allen is questionable for Sunday’s bout.

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