Timberwolves nuked by Suns, drop to third seed and will meet Phoenix in Round 1

A shot at the No. 1 seed was still in play in the regular season finale Sunday.

But any path to that required a victory Sunday against Phoenix.

And, uh, that didn’t come to fruition.

Phoenix blitzed Minnesota 125-106 at Target Center, knocking the Timberwolves down to the No. 3 seed and moving Phoenix up to No. 6.

So the Wolves, who were non-competitive in all three games against Phoenix this season, will square off with perhaps with the team they match up worst against in Round 1.

Game 1 will be next weekend at Target Center.

Minnesota better search for some answers between now and then. Because the Wolves never were within single digits in the second half of any game against Phoenix all season.

In the first matchup of the season, the Wolves were on the second half of a back to back. So that loss was chalked up to that. In the second loss, the Wolves essentially said they just weren’t themselves and didn’t knock down shots. Plus, those games were in Phoenix, so Sunday was a good test to see how the Wolves would fare at Target Center.

Answer: Not well.

There was no ready-made excuse for Sunday’s debacle. Minnesota had loads of incentive to win. But it again sputtered out of the gates, committing an insulting 19 first-half turnovers, which tied an NBA record.

And Phoenix continued to get seemingly whatever it wanted offensively. Prized offseason acquisition Brad Beal went 6 for 6 from deep en route to 36 points. Grayson Allen was 8 for 11 from the field. Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, frankly, didn’t have incredible days. And it didn’t matter.

Because Minnesota’s size can’t seem to lineup man to man against Phoenix’s plethora of scorers. The Wolves’ path to victory in the first-round series will be to out-size Phoenix. They did to some extent Sunday. Jusuf Nurkic was in foul trouble for much of the night. Rudy Gobert drew one foul after another. The center helped Minnesota make mini runs in the second half. But every Wolves’ burst was greeted by another Phoenix made shot to stem the tide.

If nothing major changes in the playoffs, the Wolves may be making another early-round exit.