Apr 15, 2024 - News

Suns top Timberwolves to clinch sixth seed and avoid play-in game

A basketball player holds his hand in the air in a shooting motion.

Bradley Beal scored 36 points yesterday against the Timberwolves. Photo: David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns head into the playoffs as the sixth seed in the Western Conference, avoiding a play-in game thanks to a strong end to the regular season and a little help from some rivals in Los Angeles.

The big picture: The Suns beat the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, ending the season with a 49-33 record.

  • With the Suns' win and the New Orleans Pelicans' loss to the Lakers Sunday, Phoenix climbed out of the seventh-place spot in the West.

Why it matters: The seventh- to 10th-place teams in each conference must win winner-take-all play-in games to advance to the first round of the playoffs.

The intrigue: Everything fell into place for the Suns over the weekend.

  • They not only needed to win Sunday, but they also needed the Pelicans to lose their final game to bump them out of sixth place.

What's next: Phoenix faces the third-place Timberwolves again in the first round, which starts Saturday.

Zoom in: The Suns had a tough schedule to end the season, playing their last 10 games against other playoff teams with winning records.

  • The Suns went 7-3 in that stretch.

Between the lines: New owner Mat Ishbia made a number of aggressive moves after taking over the team last year, substantially rearranging Phoenix's roster in the hopes of competing for a championship immediately.

  • He opened his tenure as the Suns' owner with a blockbuster trade for superstar Kevin Durant.
  • In the offseason, he traded Chris Paul for Bradley Beal, and dealt Deandre Ayton to Portland for Jusuf Nurkic.
  • He also hired Frank Vogel to replace fired head coach Monty Williams.

Yes, but: The new-look Suns never quite lived up to preseason expectations, suffering a rash of injuries earlier in the season and underperforming even when the "big three" of Durant, Beal and Devin Booker were healthy.

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