Tim's Game Preview: Game 43, Phoenix Suns

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The Wolves begin a 15-day, 7-game road trip against Steve Nash and the suddenly surging Phoenix Suns.

Minnesota Timberwolves (21-21) vs. Phoenix Suns (19-21) at US Airways Center

9 of the Timberwolves' remaining 24 games are at home, and before April 1st, the Wolves only play two more games at Target Center: March 25th against Denver and March 30th against Boston. Given the debacle that took place last night against the New Orleans Hornets, the loss of Ricky Rubio and the aforementioned schedule, the likelihood of a playoff run continues to grow smaller and smaller.

The Phoenix Suns, on the other hand, have won 7 of their last 9 games and are now only 2 1/2 games back of 8th-seeded Houston. While Steve Nash trade rumors have been numerous prior to the deadline, Nash said last week that he would like to stay in Phoenix and it is hard to believe the Suns would make a move with the team's recent performance.

The Wolves have lost 9 straight against Phoenix and have only won once in the last 11 meetings at the US Airways Center.

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Robin Lopez is set to reprise Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's role in the upcoming remake of the movie, "Airplane".

Projected Starting Lineups

C: Nikola Pekovic vs. Marcin Gortat
PF: Kevin Love vs. Channing Frye
SF: Wesley Johnson vs. Grant Hill
SG: Martell Webster vs. Jared Dudley
PG: Luke Ridnour vs. Steve Nash

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You can't draw too many conclusions from 5 minutes of playing time, but it appears Malcolm Lee may finally give Minnesota a shot-blocking presence. Lee currently has the highest block percentage (28.8%) of any player in the NBA. The next highest is Solomon Alabi at 11.8%.

Last 5 Games

Phoenix Suns

Fri, Mar 2: Win vs. LA Clippers 81-78

Sun, Mar 4: Win vs. Sacramento 96-88

Wed, Mar 7: Loss at Oklahoma City 104-115

Thu, Mar 8: Win vs. Dallas 96-94

Sat, Mar 10: Win vs. Memphis 98-91

Minnesota Timberwolves

Sat, Mar 3: Win at Portland 122-110

Mon, Mar 5: Win vs. LA Clippers 95-94

Wed, Mar 7: Win vs. Portland 106-94

Fri, Mar 9: Loss vs. LA Lakers 102-105

Sat, Mar 10: Loss vs. New Orleans 89-95

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Poor Ricky. Sources have said that Rubio will have his surgery and begin his rehab here in Minnesota, before potentially going back to Spain this summer.

Injuries

Phoenix Suns

No significant injuries

Minnesota Timberwolves

J.J. Barea - Questionable with a sprained ankle

Ricky Rubio - Likely to have surgery in the next two weeks, once the swelling goes down in his left knee

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If anyone knows how to defend Steve Nash, it is former Suns' head coach and current Timberwolves' assistant coach Terry Porter. Right?

Noteworthy Stats

  • Channing Frye has had 9 games this season where he has taken 5 or more shot attempts and only made 1 or fewer of those attempts. Wesley Johnson has only had 2 of those games
  • Michael Beasley is taking the highest number of three point attempts per-36 minutes of his career (3.1) and is shooting the highest 3P% of his career (.413)
  • Rick Adelman would have to lose 87 games in a row as head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves to equal Kurt Rambis' winning percentage of .195.
  • This season, Kevin Love is shooting over 60% at the rim, and under 39% at every other location on the floor
  • As ranked by PER (WS/48):
    Jared Dudley 16.0 (.128)
    Corey Brewer 14.6 (.087)
    Michael Beasley 13.4 (.050)
    Grant Hill 12.1 (.057)
    Josh Childress 11.3 (.085)
    Shannon Brown 11.2 (.015)
    Michael Redd 11.2 (-0.007)
    Martell Webster 10.6 (.084)
    Wesley Johnson 7.9 (.022)

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Every other sports team in Minnesota may be having bad luck these days, but as PoorDick astutely reminded us on Saturday night, the Minnesota Lynx will begin their WNBA title defense in 70 days.

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