Suns’ Bradley Beal Puts Wolves’ Anthony Edwards on Notice Ahead of Playoffs

Anthony Edwards

Getty Anthony Edwards

Bradley Beal made it clear that the Phoenix Suns will not deviate from their defensive strategy against Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards.

“Foul his a**,” Beal said with a smirk after a 125-106 win over the Timberwolves on April 14. “Foul him.”

The Suns’ approach has worked at stopping one of the NBA’s most dynamic scorers this season.

Edwards has averaged 25.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists to lead the Timberwolves (56-26) to their second-best regular-season record in franchise history. But in three games against the Suns — all double-digit losses — Edwards has averaged just 14.3 points per game.

The Suns, and Beal have effectively gotten under Edwards’ skin, throwing double- and triple-teams at him to force the Timberwolves’ supporting cast to be them instead. Edwards has yet to find a rhythm against the Suns, converting just 31% from the field.

And that’s led to some frustration from the Timberwolves. Beal and Edwards had a dust-up during the regular-season finale which has set the slate for a crash course for the two Western Conference contenders.

Beal cleared the air, saying that he was responding to coach Chris Finch and Edwards stepped in to defend his coach.

However, the Suns’ strategy for stopping Edwards won’t be stopping anytime soon.

“He knows I joke around, but be aggressive with him, man. Make him see a lot of bodies. He’s one of the best scorers and the future of this league, so we’re not going to make it easy on him,” Beal said. “And he’s not going to stop being aggressive either. So it’s going to be a good matchup and a good series.”

Anthony Edwards Must Control His Emotions vs. Suns

Anthony Edwards

GettyTimberwolves star Anthony Edwards (left) during a matchup with the Phoenix Suns.

As Edwards has ascended into NBA stardom amid a breakthrough season for him and the Timberwolves, he will have to keep a cool head if the Timberwolves hope to make ti to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Edwards has called attention to the amount of physicality he draws when driving, which has led to some frustration with officials. He’s drawn 15 technical fouls this season, and while  received a technical for defending Finch, most of the calls have come from arguing with officials.

“The physicality doesn’t bother me; I’m a physical player. But the fouling definitely bothers me because (if) somebody else gets fouled, they’re going to call it,” Edwards said, per The Athletic.

A savvy veteran team like the Suns have already shown they’re going to pester Edwards physically — but getting in his head is how they’ll ultimately win that matchup (and potentially the series).

But Beal’s call for bodies on Edwards is no new development.

Edwards understands the NBA’s standards and the increased physicality that comes with the postseason — a development he’s welcoming.

“It’s the postseason,” Edwards said. “It wouldn’t bother me at all. I played twice in the postseason, I’m not even going to look for a foul in the postseason because I know what’s going on. Yeah, I’ll be all right.”

Karl Anthony-Towns Can Make the Suns Pay for Doubling Edwards

Karl Anthony-Towns Timberwolves

GettyMinnesota Timberwolves star Karl Anthony-Towns.

The Suns have made a gamble by focusing their defensive efforts on Edwards. So far, the Timberwolves haven’t made them pay.

But in two of the three matchups, Karl Anthony-Towns was a non-factor. Towns was out with a hamstring injury in a 97-87 loss on April 5 and had just come back from injury in the April 14 loss.

“I see KAT being the MVP of the series if we win it. Because, like I said, they’re gonna put two and three on me, and he’s the best player on the team. So they gonna two and three on me, you leave the best player on the team 1 on 1. I think that’s something we live for,” Edwards said, per Dane Moore. And yeah, he takes the responsibility on defense, and if he does a great job, then we’ll come out on top.”

If Towns can take re-take the scoring reins when the Suns attempt to eclipse Edwards, it will open up the floor for everyone.

“They’re putting three people on me, so I just got to make the right reads, trust my teammates and when some of my teammates hit those shots, they gonna have to eventually get out of it,” Edwards added.

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