The Minnesota Timberwolves begin their 7-game road trip tonight vs. the Phoenix Suns. In fact, the next time the TWolves will play back at the Target Center is March 25th vs. the Denver Nuggets. Until then, they'll face: Utah, L.A. Lakers, Sacramento, Golden State, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
Anyway, let's get to Minnesota vs. Phoenix, tonight. The Phoenix Suns have won the last 9 meetings over the Timberwolves. The Phoenix Suns are also currently on a 5-game home winning streak as they look to push that to 6 with a win over the Wolves tonight.
The TWolves are currently 21-21 on the year as well as 9-9 on the road, Minnesota has struggled lately though, going 5-5 in their last 10 games as they're currently on a 2-game losing streak. The Phoenix Suns are 19-21 on the year and 12-9 at home this season. They're also 7-3 in their last 10 games and are currently on a 2-game winning streak.
The Minnesota Timberwolves' last game was a humbling and almost humiliating loss to the New Orleans Hornets, who up to that point had only won 9 games. This of course was the first game the TWolves were playing without their rookie point guard Ricky Rubio. I can assume you've heard Ricky tore his ACL, but if not, here's the full report: Ricky Rubio Tears ACL, Out for Season.
Without Rubio at the helm, the Wolves committed 17 turnovers (which was their most in 8 games), they shot 22% from deep and lost to the Western Conference's worst team! "It's like we reverted back to a long time ago, we're not going to get it done that way," said Rick Adelman, following the loss.
It's clear the TWolves are going to miss Ricky Rubio, but the possibility of making the playoffs for the first time since 2004 is still a possibility and with point guards Luke Ridnour & J.J. Barea on the roster as well as rookie Malcolm Lee, the TWolves are deep at the position and any would be good enough to lead the Wolves at point guard. However, it's clear that guys like Kevin Love & Nikola Pekovic need to continue their stellar play but some of their main guys like Derrick Williams, Martell Webster & Michael Beasley (if he's not traded) need to step up and contribute! It's unclear, at this point as to whether J.J. will be able to play, likely a gametime decision for this one.
The Phoenix Suns' last game was Saturday vs. the Memphis Grizzlies. The result was a 98-91 win for the Suns as they extended that home winning streak to five games. The Suns were able to rally from 11 points down at halftime to win the game thanks to six Phoenix Suns players in double figures, lead by Dudley w/19pts, Gortat added 15, Hill-14, Nash & Lopez each had 11 (Nash also added 15ast) and Frye rounded that out with 10.
Despite preseason projections that the Suns would be a lottery-team at best, they're making a serious push for the playoffs since the All-Star break and if Nash isn't traded and guys like Hill, Dudley & Gortat continue playing the way they have, they may just surprise some folks.
A big question for me heading into this one is what the Timberwolves' starting lineup will look like? Versus the Hornets on Saturday the TWolves started Luke at point guard, Martell at shooting guard and then the usual Johnson, Love & Pekovic. My biggest question is whether Martell will get the start at shooting guard again. In his first start this season for the Wolves he played 24 minutes, had 2 points on 1-of-5 shooting, 0-for-2 from deep, 7rebs, 2ast, 1to & 1fl. There are other options, but I don't know that Adelman will make any changes to his lineup...wait and see, I suppose.
A big key to tonight's game will be limiting turnovers and hitting shots. The TWolves don't have the greatest defense in the League (we, know that), but when they don't shoot a high percentage and turn the ball over in the 'teens', the Wolves struggle mightily! It'll be no easy task against a red-hot Suns team led by Nash & Co.
Tip is set for 9pmCT (later start then usual, because it's a West coast game), a full gameday recap can be found on this site following the final horn.
Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!