Who’s the favorite? Our roundtable makes Suns-Wolves playoff series predictions

Apr 19, 2024, 3:18 PM | Updated: 8:25 pm

Karl-Anthony Towns posts up Kevin Durant...

Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves handles the ball against Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on November 15, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It’s not your typical No. 3 versus No. 6 playoff matchup: Many think the Phoenix Suns could pull the upset, and the 3-0 Phoenix advantage in the regular season is a big reason why.

Let’s go to our panel of Arizona Sports show hosts to see if we’re believers in the every-inconsistent Suns.

Who will win the Suns-Timberwolves playoff series and what, or who, will be the deciding factor?

Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta: I’ve never been a fan of rollercoasters. Too jarring. Too much up and down. That feeling in your gut when you’re on a steep, rapid decline … the feeling of being temporarily upside down. Yeah, not for me.

The Suns’ regular season has been just that – a thrill-a-minute 82-game ride complete with equal parts nausea and euphoria. I’ll focus on the second sensation.

The way Phoenix closed out the regular season, winning seven out of the last 10 games in the toughest finish to a season from the perspective of opponents’ winning percentage the league has seen in over 30 years has left me feeling optimistic. The way they absolutely handled the Minnesota Timberwolves on three different occasions this season only bolsters that feeling.

I like the Suns to win one of the first two games in Minnesota, take both at home in games three and four, lose Game 5 and then come home to Footprint Center and wrap up the series (haven’t Suns fans waited long enough to see them clinch a series at home?) in Game 6.

The deciding factor in this series will be the Suns’ renewed commitment on the defensive end. They’ve been much better on that end of the floor in the second half of the season and will carry that into the postseason. However, I do not expect the Suns to keep Anthony Edwards bottled up – he’s too good a player to continue playing the way he has against Phoenix. He’ll go off in at least two games this season, but the Suns’ balanced firepower will be too much for Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns to match.

Suns in six.

Kellan Olson, co-host of the Empire of the Suns podcast: I’ve got the Timberwolves in six. The Suns are definitely better now than they were two months ago, but the mystifying lows continued through that process. Consistency is of vital importance in a playoff series, when all it takes to lose a game is a few bad possessions. I can’t trust Phoenix to have enough of that, even in a matchup like this one that suits them so well.

Luke Lapinski, co-host of Wolf & Luke: I’ll take the Suns in six. Minnesota’s a good team and they earned that top-three seed over 82 games, but we’ve seen time and time again that the regular season only means so much in the NBA — especially if you get a tough matchup in the first round. The Suns are a tough matchup for the Timberwolves. Not only does it look that way on paper, they’ve proven it three times already this year.

This won’t be an easy series though. If the Suns don’t bring their best, they’ll be done and answering a lot of big-picture questions they probably don’t want to be answering. On raw talent, they should win. And the playoff experience that Durant – and now Booker – have should be an advantage as well. If this team truly turned a corner right at the end of the season, they’re dangerous. And we’re going to find out pretty quickly.

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo: I like the Suns in six although I was tempted to say five. I think they split in Minny, Suns take both in Phoenix and then who knows in Game 5 in Minnesota.

But if the T-Wolves do win that one, it ends here in Phoenix after Game 6. The Suns go the preferred matchup as everyone knows. Not sure we would be picking them if they played any of the seeds above them – OKC, Denver, LAC and Dallas. But this matchup is tailormade.

Minnesota is big but slow. The Suns have issues with younger, faster and more athletic teams. Minnesota is not that overall but it does have size. Not sure the T-Wolves can use that size to their advantage versus Phoenix. The Suns’ ability to bottle up Edwards has proven to be the difference in all these games and will continue to be in the series.

Kevin Zimmerman, co-host of the Empire of the Suns podcast: I’m calling it Suns in seven. It’s no so much I’m a believer in the Suns turning a corner to become a title threat. I’m mostly not sold on the Timberwolves until I see they get their wonky roster at least a series into the next round. Indeed, they’ve earned the No. 3 seed because the kinks have been worked out and continuity is there after last year’s Rudy Gobert trade.

But the Suns have wrapped up Ant Edwards, and even if they are half as successful in the postseason as they were in three regular season games, that still gives them a chance to have the best player — or even two — of this series. I just don’t know if that will be Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal.

Dan Bickley, co-host of Bickley & Marotta: The Suns will win the series in six games. They are the better team with a decided psychological advantage. Beal has come into his own, the team is healthy, and Booker’s story starts now (his words, not mine).

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo: A series never comes down to one player but I do think Anthony Edwards is the focal point. His struggles against the Suns are well documented and should they continue, this series is over and Minnesota won’t have much of a chance. I don’t think they will continue and that will make it harder than you’d expect considering the Suns dominated the T-Wolves in the regular season. But I still think there’s just too much confidence the Suns have gained in their regular season mastery of Minnesota. So put me down for Suns in six.

Ron Wolfley, co-host of Wolf & Luke: I think the Suns will win the series in seven games. I know they beat the Timberwolves in all three games they played this season, but they have to prove to me they have the toughness to finish playoff games. They have all the talent they need to win a championship, but do they have the toughness to hit the floor with a dark heart – especially in the fourth quarter?

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Who’s the favorite? Our roundtable makes Suns-Wolves playoff series predictions