Devin Booker's off-night was the story behind the Phoenix Suns' 120-95 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 1 of the Western Conference first-round. Booker, who is the Suns' franchise player, finished with 18 points but struggled to shoot against the Timberwolves for most of the game.

“We all just need to adjust to the playoffs, the physicality,” Booker said, per The Arizona Republic. “They're being overly physical with me and I had 3 early fouls and went to the bench. Just trying to find a rhythm from there.”

Booker started 3-of-11, forcing shots in Phoenix's offense that centered its attack for most of the first quarter around Kevin Durant. Durant's 11 points helped the Suns take a first-quarter lead, but they did not respond well.

The Suns cut what was a 10-point Timberwolves halftime lead to 71-67, but Phoenix surrendered a 21-5 run to end the third quarter and was out of the game.

Here are five takeaways.

Credit: Jesse Johnson – USA TODAY Sports

Devin Booker, leader in playoff scoring last season, shoots poorly

Booker averaged 33.7 points with Durant next to him in last year's playoffs. Booker said to ClutchPoints another season with Durant would help against times of conflict on the court from Suns opposition.

“We’ve had adversity this season, we’ve had ups and downs, we’ve been through a lot,” Booker said. “So hopefully it’s all out the way, and once we’ve gone through a tough time, we’ve already kind of been through it.”

The Suns trail a series for the third time with Durant on the team. Phoenix lost its first game against the LA Clippers in the first round in 2023 before it won four straight. Booker was tremendous, averaging a blistering 40 points while shooting 61 percent from the field in the series.

The Booker on the floor Saturday in contrast was an abysmal version of a player who has been relied on heavily for all of his career in Phoenix. Booker, a playoff riser by expectation, saw his shooting-guard counterpart, Anthony Edwards, torch him and his team. Edwards is someone who is looking to take over in the generation of NBA stars following Durant, LeBron James and Golden State Warriors' Steph Curry.

“I just think he missed some tough ones, some easy ones that he normally makes,” said Durant, via PHNX Sports. “I think he could be more aggressive to shoot more shots in the first half.

“I'm not worried about Book, I think he'll come out here and have a great Game 2.”

Edwards looked like the best player on the floor against a Suns team that has Durant, Booker and guard Bradley Beal, who is supposed to be a missing piece toward a championship.

Kevin Durant's hot shooting not enough

The 35-year-old Durant said when he was introduced as a Sun he wanted to win in Phoenix. As someone who is looking to solidify himself as one of the best players ever, Durant did his part on Saturday with 31 points on 11-of-17 shooting.

Durant was tied with Booker at 27.1 points per game this regular season. He is playing at an elite level but the Suns' offensive coaching, which is expected to be planned by associate head coach Kevin Young along with coach Frank Vogel, at times is yet to make Durant a true threat.

Rather than relying on Durant, the Suns got away from him. Booker's 11 shots were rushed and Durant, who exposed the Timberwolves' matchups of Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, was left to watch as Phoenix saw a first-quarter lead and a close third-quarter dissipate.

Credit: Jesse Johnson – USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Edwards shocks mentor with trash talk and takeover

Edwards said he was in awe to watch Durant, who is his favorite player.

“At one point, I was like, ‘God damn, he nice,'” Edwards said, via Dane Moore.

Durant smiled as Edwards barked at him in the third quarter in the zone of an 18-point period. The future face of the Western Conference, along with Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson, knew he was in a zone.

The 6-foot-5 Edwards is someone who will torch Phoenix if he is not accounted for. The Suns, who had Booker in foul trouble as well in the second half, struggled to capitalize when Edwards had two first-quarter fouls. Phoenix also forced two fouls by the second quarter on the best perimeter defender for Minnesota, Jaden McDaniels, and did not go on a run like the Timberwolves.

Vogel has been slow to make necessary change at center. Phoenix traded Deandre Ayton for Jusuf Nurkic, who is an excellent box-out, aggressive rebounder. However, Nurkic is not a threat to finish lobs on pick-and-roll sets, and his finishing is poor around the basket. Nurkic ranks in the 1.3 and 0.5 percentile in finishing talent and and rim shot-making, according to Cleaning the Glass, respectively.

Drew Eubanks is consistently a negative on the court and failed to record two rebounds. The Suns were out-rebounded 52 to 28, and Nurkic and Eubanks combined for just five boards together.

Phoenix was locked in a contest that it needed to play with much quicker intentions. The Suns took 13 fewer shots (88 to 75) than Minnesota, which is No. 29 in field-goals attempted (85) per game. The Timberwolves along with their rebounding dominated Phoenix in points in the paint (52 to 34), second-chance (20 to 6) and even had a 13-10 lead in fastbreak points, which cannot be a theme in the series if Phoenix is going to advance.

Grayson Allen ineffective, suffers right ankle injury

Allen, fresh off his agreement for a $70 million contract, struggled Saturday. He did not score and was just 0-of-3 from 3-point range.

Allen with 4:44 left in the third quarter collided with Karl-Anthony Towns and had to leave the game. His X-rays were negative, Vogel said.

The 6-foot-5 guard has been essential to the Suns' offensive potential with Booker, Beal and Durant. Allen led the NBA in 3-point percentage (46.1) in the regular season and grabbed the fifth starting spot when it was up in the air early in the season. His status for Game 2 is unclear.

Suns forced to respond

Phoenix, if it wins Game 2, will be able to better shake off what was a blowout win for Minnesota, which had not beaten it in three regular-season meetings.

The Suns' staples in those games were hot shooting thanks to hunting opponents that simply could not guard them. Phoenix built a 23-, 28- and 24-point lead in its three wins over the Timberwolves, but it was unable to beat the team it dominated for two games this month, including a 120-105 win in Minnesota Sunday.

Durant is someone who is expected to be a player who could lead the Suns to somewhere they have never been. But all pressure now will fall with Booker, who to some is the team's best player. However, he needs to show he can lead a team to a championship in order to gain the respect of the national viewers.