This is the playoff matchup for Bradley Beal to shine

The Phoenix Suns need sombody to step up if they're to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves in the playoffs, and this could be Bradley Beal's time.
Phoenix Suns v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game One
Phoenix Suns v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game One / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

The Phoenix Suns got their postseason off to the worst possible start, being dealt a 25 point hammering by the Minnesota Timberwolves. An opponent whose number they have had throughout the regular season, when the Suns went 3-0 against them.

The playoffs are a different beast though, and the Timberwolves were full value for their win. Anthony Edwards had a breakout postseason performance, while Karl-Anthony Towns was as locked in as we've ever seen him. Rudy Gobert manned the paint really well, while Jaden McDaniels and Nickeil Alexander-Walker did an excellent job of shutting down any creativity on the perimeter for the Suns.

Right now they look outmatched in this series, but this may just be the moment when Bradley Beal goes out and shows the world why the Suns traded for him.

Beal was hardly unstoppable in Game 1 - but he had a much better game than Devin Booker - who struggled mightily from the attention he received. The idea of having Beal on this roster isn't to outperform Booker, but rather to compliment him in the best ways possible. Beal did this, finishing with a team high six assists, with only a single turnover to his name.

His 15 points lagged behind the 18 of Booker and the 31 of Kevin Durant - easily the Suns' best player on the night - but watching the game back, Beal wasn't overly aggressive when he had the ball in hand. Instead he looked to set up Booker when he could, while he was right to defer to Durant, who put together one of his trademark postseason performances, full of difficult shot making.

Beal was the team's MVP of the fourth-quarter of the season, and yet he never really looked to seriously take this game over. It would be a stretch to say he played with the handbrake on - he was easily the Suns' second best player in the loss after Durant - but it still felt like was holding back just that little bit because he knows he is the third option offensively for this group.

But if he can get it going early in Game 2, it is going to create a serious problem for the Timberwolves. Both Gobert and Towns took turns guarding Durant, with Towns occasionally using his massive frame to annoy Booker as well. With McDaniels and Alexander-Walker taking turns having pops off Booker, the Suns were unable to get into any rhythm offensively.

Royce O'Neale did the best he could - chipping in with a needed 14 points off the bench - and this is a spot that Beal can occupy for the remainder of the series and beyond. The Timberwolves figured out by halfway through the game that Beal was more often than not going to pass first, and so they didn't guard him as aggressively as they perhaps anticipated.

Yet despite the varied injuries he has suffered this season, he's a quicker and more direct penetrator in the paint than Booker is. Beal didn't play in the first Suns' win of the season over the Timberwolves, and in the second he finished with 14 points and a pair of assists in 27 minutes. A game that Towns missed through injury.

In the final game of the regular season though and with Towns back from injury, Beal had a team-high 36 points, with six rebounds and five assists for good measure. The Timberwolves didn't have an answer for his scoring output - and they didn't anticipate it either - and it helped the Suns to one of their more impressive wins of the season, hanging 125 on the best defensive team in the league.

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Beal is going to get the better of Mike Conley any time both of them are on the court - and if he could distract McDaniels on some plays to allow Booker to get going - then the Suns would surely begin to get a foothold in this series. Defensively he plays with an intensity that has been lacking on this roster, and you could never blame his willingness to make plays on that end of the court.

The Suns went and got Beal last summer for a reason. If they'd wanted a passive, pass-first point guard to constantly set up Booker and Durant, then they would have kept Chris Paul. But what they need is a multiple time All-Star who has averaged over 30 per game twice in his career, and who also shot 43 percent from deep this season. Scoring is Beal's primary game, and it can help them win this series.