The Timberwolves, following a blockbuster 2022 trade, took a full season to successfully incorporate Rudy Gobert alongside fellow big man Karl-Anthony Towns into this year's 56-26 season.

Last summer, Phoenix acquired shooter Bradley Beal from Washington to play with scoring stars Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. Now the Suns have found themselves when it matters most. They won 10 of their past 14 games and finished 49-33 and seeded sixth to avoid the NBA play-in tournament.

They start their best-of-seven series against the third-seeded Wolves on Saturday afternoon at Target Center.

Wolves coach Chris Finch sees similarities between the two.

"I've said all season, when you add these big, big pieces, it just takes a long, long time," Finch said. "The roles have to adjust, and people have to figure out how to play together and play off each other and accept their role. 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. And that's just on the court. That doesn't even take into account the human side off the court."

Beal is playing more point guard than he did during 11 seasons with Washington, where he made the playoffs five times but never advanced past the second round. He says it's not his natural position and the transition has had "its ups and downs."

"But I wouldn't want to play point guard in a better situation than with two killer scorers next to me," Beal said.

The Wizards with him hadn't had a winning record since 2018. Now the Suns have the kind of offensive firepower to make a long playoff run. If they get past the Wolves first, in the first round.

"Beyond excited. It's hard to put into words," Beal said about playing for this Suns team. "There's just an opportunity we have. The team I'm on, I just embrace every moment, take no moment for granted. It's a special group. That's why I came here, to play in these types of games. I'm fortunate we have the opportunity."

It took the Wolves last season to adapt after injuries sidetracked them. The Suns might be peaking after winning six of their past eight.

"It just takes a long time," Finch said. "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."

Leaning on a leader

Phoenix comes back to town Saturday with two-time NBA champion Durant, while the Wolves counter in playoff experience with veteran point guard Mike Conley. He has reached his 11th playoffs, but the furthest he has gone is the 2013 Western Conference finals with Memphis.

"We've leaned on Mike for those veteran, experiential-leadership type things all year," Finch said. "He has been great all week, set the tone early with some remarks our first day this week when we came back together, just reminding guys what's at stake, what it takes, how many times he has been through it, what not to take for granted. We're lucky to have a guy like that."

Ready, set …

The Wolves on Friday held their last practice before Saturday's game and finished a little early doing it.

When asked if he feels his team is prepared 24 hours away, Finch said, "Sure, absolutely. We feel prepared. All these series are a lot of things that happen and adjustments and zigs and zags. But we feel very prepared right now."

Don't you worry

Saturday's game is Towns' third game back from knee surgery, and it comes after having a full week of five-on-five practice after he played 28 and 29 minutes in his first two games back.

"You don't got to worry about KAT," Wolves forward Kyle Anderson said. "He'll be ready to go Game 1. You don't have to worry about him, regardless of the situation. He'll be ready to play and ready to go. I don't lose sleep over it. I know KAT will be ready to go."