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Timberwolves at Suns Game #23

An afternoon game in Phoenix wraps up this quick two game road trip for the Wolves

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Wolves at Suns
2:30 pm CST
FS North

I suspect there is research on this showing that I am completely wrong, but it's always seemed to me that early afternoon tip-offs generally feature some god-awful basketball. Intuitively you can guess why this might be true: these guys are fine-tuned to be ready in the evenings, afternoon starts are a major shift in routine. As I say, I'm probably wrong, but my sense is that there is a lethargy and lack of sharpness in the afternoon start.

That was just a brief tangent of course to the main point which is the Wolves facing the Suns with 9th place in the Western Conference on the line. The Suns come in at 10-14, which is a little unlucky (or something) as they have scored the same number of points as they have allowed. The strongest area of their game is perimeter scoring: they are 3rd in the league in threes made and in 3P% at over 38%. They are led in this area by their starting guards Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe, as well as by wing man Mizra Teletovic coming off the bench, but six other guys also average at least on attempt per game.

Their problems mostly come on the other end, where they allow the 3rd highest opponents' efg% in the league. Part of this is that they give up open threes as well as generate them, something the Wolves are generally not that equipped to take advantage of, but they also allow a very high percentage inside the arc. Tyson Chandler remains a defensive presence, but outside of the center position they are a relatively small team and have very little shot blocking.

On the injury front, Chandler missed the last game with a sore hamstring but is likely to go today, while Markieff Morris also missed the game vs. the Blazers with illness and is an unknown (and has not been playing much as the rift between he and the Suns continues).

The Wolves have lost 4 of 5, most of them in somewhat agonizing fashion as they have blown several recent games late, including Friday night in Denver in what was the most painful (for me) loss of the season.

Hopefully they can bounce back today. It's going to be a tough ask for Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, and Zach LaVine to keep Knight and Bledsoe in check, as they seem to trade off big games between them. Meanwhile, the entire Wolves defense must be aware of the three point line, because the Suns regularly have three or four guys out there who are capable of making that shot.

Offensively, I'm hoping to see the Wolves work on getting the ball in to Karl-Anthony Towns, either on the pick and roll or in the post. They seemed intent on Friday on getting Kevin Martin the ball, but he's going to get his shots one way or another--he's been doing it for more than a decade. Towns has been one of their most efficient guys, but sometimes they seem to forget about him.

It would also help if Andrew Wiggins can get going early--he had struggled through a few games before finally waking up a little in the 2nd half against Denver. Still, his shooting has been off recently and teams seem to have figured a couple of things out about him, so he'll need to show he can adjust.

Expected lineups


Brandon Knight
Eric Bledsoe
P.J. Tucker
Jon Leuer
Tyson Chandler


Ricky Rubio
Kevin Martin
Andrew Wiggins
Kevin Garnett
Karl-Anthony Towns

Our blogging buddies are over at Bright Side of the Sun. Be excellent.

No no and no.

Enjoy the game. Chat here. Go Wolves.