The Minnesota Timberwolves are looking to finish this back-to-back-to-back game set with 2 wins and not 2 losses. They of course beat the Clippers on Tuesday night, but fell well-short yesterday vs. the Lakers.
Kevin Love was out for last night's game vs. the Lakers with 'flu-like symptoms'. There's a very good chance he'll play tonight and the TWolves definitely need their all-star! Honestly, without him, Minnesota isn't a playoff-contender (yes, Minnesota is a playoff contender this season--just one game out of the 8th seed in the Western Conference). If Love is again not able to play, expect Derrick Williams to start once again at power forward.
The Timberwolves are currently at .500 on the season overall and on the road. They're 18-18 overall and 8-8 on the road. The Phoenix Suns are 14-20 on the year and 7-9 at home this season.
The Suns continue to deal with the Steve Nash trade rumors. It's nothing new though, it's a cloud that's hung over this team for the past two seasons, since Amar'e Stoudemire left via free agency and the Suns became a lottery team. Nash is adamant he wants to remain in Phoenix for the remainder of the season, but like most, I believe the Suns need to trade him away to get some young pieces in return and begin the rebuilding process. I am not saying, however, that the Suns are a team you can simply overlook and expect an easy-win (should never do that, of course).
The Wolves will look to snap an 8-game losing streak to the Suns tonight as well as a 4-win streak for Phoenix at home vs. Minnesota. In fact, the Suns' last loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves was on January 16, 2009; a 105-103 TWolves win.
Clearly, the marquee matchup of the night will be rookie Ricky Rubio & the veteran and two-time MVP Steve Nash. Two play-making point guards looking to get their team the W. Obviously Nash is the superior player mainly because of his shooting ability! There is one other matchup I'm excited to see, as well, though and that's Nikola Pekovic vs. Marcin Gortat. The Pek-secutioner vs. the Polish Hammer! Physicality vs. Physicality! Two big bruisers going head-to-head. I'm honestly more excited to watch these two go at it, than Nash & Ricky!
Nash of course leads the NBA in assists per game with 10.9 while also scoring 13.6ppg. Marcin Gortat is another key piece, he averages a team-high 15.9ppg, 10.4rpg & 1.6bpg. Jared Dudley is their only other double-digit scorer with 11.7ppg and a team-high 1.0spg.
The starting lineups will likely be: Rubio vs. Nash, Ridnour vs. Dudley, Johnson vs. Grant Hill, Love or D-Will vs. Channing Frye & Pekovic vs. Gortat.
Accuscore has the Phoenix Suns as the 52-48 favorites and the Suns by 4.5! You'd have to think that's based off of Love not playing...I'm not sure, though!
Beyond K-Love, J.J. Barea may not be able to play. J.J.'s listed as doubtful for this one after straining his right calf in last night's game vs. the Lakers, after playing just 10 minutes. If Barea isn't able to play, expect Luke to still start, but to come out in the first quarter a bit sooner, so he's able to relieve Rubio as the backup point guard. That'll mean increased time for Martell Webster and perhaps a couple minutes for Wayne Ellington.
This will be the first of three meetings between these two teams. The TWolves will be back in Phoenix on March 12th and the Suns will visit the Target Center on April 9th.
Looking ahead, the Timberwolves will have just one day off following this back-to-back-to-back game set. They'll have Friday off before travelling to the Rose Garden for a game on Saturday vs. the Trailblazers.
That's all for now, tipoff is set for 8pmCT from the U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix. A full gameday recap can be found here following the final horn. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!