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For a week, the Timberwolves heard the talk that the Suns were a bad match for them in the first round of the playoffs

For a week, the Wolves had a chance to devise counters to the weaknesses Phoenix exploited in their three regular-season matchups.

The Wolves had a answer for all of the above in a resounding 120-95 Game 1 victory over Phoenix on Saturday at Target Center.

Anthony Edwards, who had averaged just over 14 points against Phoenix this season, exploded for 33 points, including 18 in a third quarter that the Wolves grabbed hold of the game and didn't let go.

Edwards did a fair share of his damage against childhood hero Kevin Durant, and he seemed to relish letting Durant know about a few times while he was on his heater. Edwards capped the game with a steal of Durant for a breakaway dunk with 3 minutes, 37 seconds to play.

"We need to take our game to another level," said Wolves coach Chris Finch. "We had to play desperate basketball, with a chip on our shoulder, like we did early in the season when we were trying to establish ourselves."

The Wolves' physical defense made life difficult for the Suns, who had trouble scoring outside of Durant (31 points). The Wolves took out Grayson Allen, who was just 0-for-3 while limiting Devin Booker to 5-for-16 and 18 points. The Wolves held the Suns without a field goal for the last 7:03 of the third quarter.

They also got key contributions off their bench from Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who shined on both ends of the floor, with 18 points and four steals. Naz Reid finished with 12 points, including five points in a final early fourth-quarter push.

"I love their aggressiveness. I thought, defensively, Naz was great off the glass as well. He really battled," said Finch.

The Wolves used size to their advantage with a 20-6 edge in second-chance points as Rudy Gobert had 14 points and 16 rebounds.

Durant was the Suns' only standout.

"KD is such an unbelievable player, such a tough cover," Finch said. "We wanted to put as much size on him as possible. Shot were tough, but he made them."

Here were our live updates from Target Center:

4:50 p.m.: Wolves' impressive third quarter leads to 92-72 lead

Anthony Edwards officially announced his arrival to the series with a huge third quarter for the Wolves, who led 92-72 entering the fourth.

Edwards scored 18 points in the third. Phoenix cut the Wolves lead to four in the opening minutes of the quarter, but the Wolves went on a 21-5 run to end the quarter.

Edwards was up to 28 and the Wolves held Phoenix without a field goal for the last 7:03 of the quarter.

Kevin Durant has 28 points for the Suns, but the Wolves have frustrated Devin Booker, who is 3-for-13 for 11 points.

4 p.m.: KAT has strong half as Wolves lead 61-51

The first half went about as well as the Wolves could have hoped as they lead 61-51.

The Wolves used their size to their advantage with a 16-2 edge in second-chance points. Karl-Anthony Towns has 13 at the half, with seven of those coming at the free-throw line, and added five rebounds and four assists.

The Wolves might be down a rotation player as Kyle Anderson suffered a hip pointer at the 10:26 mark after a collision with Bradley Beal. Anderson will not return, the Wolves said.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker continued to provide a much needed lift off the bench with 12 first-half points while providing some hounding defense on Bradley Beal.

The Wolves turned this game into a defensive slugfest, which would seem to favor them and the way they want to play defense. They led 46-39, their largest lead of the game, after Towns put back an Anthony Edwards miss in transition. That capped an 8-0 Wolves run.

The Wolves led 51-41 when Edwards picked up his third foul at the 3:18 mark, forcing him to come out the rest of the half. Shortly after that, Devin Booker picked up his third foul with 2:33 to play. Mike Conley, who got off to a rough start at 1-for-6, also has three fouls.

3:20 p.m.: Suns lead by one after one quarter.

Phoenix took a 28-27 lead in the first quarter thanks to 11 points from Kevin Durant, who scored his first nine in the first couple of minutes.

Anthony Edwards had seven for the Wolves, but picked up two fouls.

The one-point deficit is a small victory for the Wolves in the sense that Phoenix has crushed them in the first quarters all season long.

The focus all week for the Wolves was reducing the number of turnovers they had early against Phoenix in the last few regular-season matchups. Along those lines, it was a tough start for Edwards, who had four turnovers in the first quarter. But that's where the turnover troubles ended for the Wolves in a tight, physical first quarter.

Phoenix's largest lead was five as Durant made a number of mid-range jumpers for 11 points. The Wolves punched back with some threes off the bench from Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Naz Reid.

2:40 p.m.: Arena fills up with a bright look

NBA playoff shirts were placed on seats at Target Center as Josh Minott of the Timberwolves warmed up before Game 1 on Saturday.
NBA playoff shirts were placed on seats at Target Center as Josh Minott of the Timberwolves warmed up before Game 1 on Saturday.

Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Fans have white t-shirts on their seats for a "White Out" as Target Center fills up.

The Wolves' starting lineup will include Jaden McDaniels (10.5 points, 3.1 rebounds per game), Karl-Anthony Towns (21.8, 8.3), Rudy Gobert (13.0, 12.9), Anthony Edwards (25.9, 5.4, 5.1 assists) and Mike Conley (11.4 points, 5.9 assists).

The Suns are countering with Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Jusuf Nurkic and Grayson Allen.

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, and his wife Becky, got hugs from most of the Timberwolves players as they sat next to the team's bench after introductions. Across the court, limited partner Alex Rodriguez was also in attendance.

1 p.m.: Updates from Chris Finch

Wolves coach Chris Finch just held his pregame media availability, here are some snippets.

On Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid, both of whom missed last season's series against Denver because of injuries: "Certainly we need them. They've been key performers all season. Missed them greatly last year. To be determined on how they respond. I think the biggest detriment to them not being in last year's playoffs is how it would help them this year. Just the experience of going through it. They played a little bit in the Memphis series two years ago. I know they're excited. They're just going to have to go out there and feel their way through it. It's great to have them out there."

On limiting Grayson Allen, who has had good games against the Wolves this season and is 46% from three-point range: "He's a great player, way more than just a shooter. He gets to the heart of the defense. Good finisher. Plays with toughness. Plays so well off everybody else. You really got to slow down the ball movement. It comes down to that. Got to try to contain him and get to the heart of your defense where they're breaking you down. A lot of pass-pass threes, and the best shooter in the league is going to thrive in that type of offensive rhythm."

Noon: How did we get here?

On paper, the roster construction of the Suns and Timberwolves isn't similar.

The Wolves have gone big in their makeup with Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert while the Suns have gone a bit smaller with the addition of Bradley Beal joining Devin Booker and Kevin Durant before the season.

But to Wolves coach Chris Finch, the addition of Beal and incorporating him into the mix for the Suns is similar to what the Wolves had to go through when Gobert joined the team — it takes time sometimes for these big acquisitions to work.

"These roles have to adjust and people gotta figure out how to play together and play off of each other and accept their role, it just takes a long, long time," Finch said after Friday's practice. "Like, Beal went from only knowing the Washington environment, Rudy went from only knowing the Utah environment, and now you're being asked to do different things."

The Wolves began playing some of their best basketball last season in the last 20 games, especially after Towns returned from a right calf injury. For the Suns, Beal played in 53 of a possible 82 games. Their winning percentage was nearly identical pre- and post- All-Star break was right around .600, but they went 6-2 in April as they made a push to secure the No. 6 seed.

That's what fans might be fearing coming into this series, that Phoenix is more than a typical No. 6 seed and is playing at a quality above where it finished, given the time it took for the team to come together.

"It just takes a long time," Finch said. "And I know nobody wants to hear that in pro sports anymore, they want everything done fast. But it just does. And we've benefited from it, and they're starting to find their groove now, too."

11 a.m.: Story lines and pregame reading

Our major advance was a feature on Naz Reid, the popular sixth man of the Wolves.

Patrick Reusse thinks Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a key factor for the Wolves ... and Jim Souhan says it's time for Karl-Anthony Towns to step up.

Jerry Z broke down the matchups position-by-position, with a prediction on the series here.