Key role player could miss Game 2 for Suns vs Timberwolves

The Phoenix Suns are going to need everybody to play their part if they want to even the series vs the Minnesota Timberwolves, but one key role player is questionable.
Atlanta Hawks v Phoenix Suns
Atlanta Hawks v Phoenix Suns / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

The Phoenix Suns are facing into Game 2 against the Minnesota Timberwolves after a humbling experience in the first game of this series. Despite beating the Timberwolves three times during the regular season - including the final game of that 82 game slate - they were taught a lesson by the three seed in Minneapolis.

Devin Booker was not at the races, while Bradley Beal may have to be more assertive if he is to help his team get back in this series and ultimately move on to the next round. Kevin Durant is going to get his - but with the Timberwolves having varied ways to both score and more importantly defend at an elite level - that alone is not going to be enough.

It is clear then that the Suns need everybody to help pull them back into this series, but one key role player has been listed as questionable for Game 2.

That would be Grayson Allen, who rolled his ankle in Game 1, although he did continue and finished the 120-95 loss with four points. All of which came at the free-throw line. Perhaps it was the rolled ankle which caused Allen to go 0-for-3 from deep, although there is unfortunately a more likely reason that this happened.

The combined defensive efforts of Jaden McDaniels and Nickeil Alexander-Walker had Allen out of sorts last night, and it was alarming to see a guy who led the league in 3-point shooting percentage during the regular season, look so unsure of himself when he did decide to let the ball fly. This miss in particular, after McDaniels did a superb job covering two players, was woeful.

The hope for the Suns is that Allen is not only good to go for Game 2, but that he can actually contribute on the court. If he is unable to suit up, that would allow Royce O'Neale to start for the Suns, and that could lead to more success. O'Neale had 14 of his side's 18 points off the bench in Game 1, and he played the kind of game it was hoped that Allen would.

Even if Allen is healthy enough to play, there could still be a case for starting O'Neale over him. He finished Game 1 having played a minute more than Allen anyway, although the combination of the ankle injury and poor shooting night were without doubt the reason why.

But if O'Neale does start Game 2, the Suns would still very much need Allen off the bench as their sixth man, basically swapping roles with O'Neale. Many felt this was going to be Allen's role on this roster this season anyway, he just outperformed expectations so much that he was inked to a four-year, $70 million deal before the playoffs began.

Losing Allen for any amount of time in this series and beyond would also have another massive negative knock-on impact for the Suns, and that is because head coach Frank Vogel absolutely does not trust the end of his bench. Even Bol Bol - who had earned some postseason run with his play this season - was limited to four garbage time minutes in the Game 1 loss.

3 adjustments the Suns have to make for Game 2. 3 adjustments the Suns have to make for Game 2. dark. Next

If Allen can't play, that puts even more responsibility on Eric Gordon and Drew Eubanks. Given that Eubanks is the backup center, it will then be on coach Vogel to turn to Bol, Josh Okogie, Nassir Little and Thaddeus Young to play some in what will be a crucial game. As it was neither Gordon or Eubanks were any good against the younger Timberwolves in Game 1 anyway.

Which once again only serves to highlight the lack of true depth this roster has. It also means that - should Allen miss out - the pressure is on Booker and Beal not just to perform better than Game 1, but to have some of the best performances across the league in this still young postseason. The hope then is that Allen's questionable turns to probable.