Suns at Wolves
7:00 pm CDT
Two lottery bound teams face off tonight at Target Center when the Wolves host the Phoenix Suns, who currently sit four games behind them in the standings and only ahead of the Lakers in the Western Conference.
As we all know, it's been a disaster season for the Suns, who had expected to make a step forward this season with the maturation of some of their younger players and the addition of veteran big man Tyson Chandler, but it has all gone sideways amid the Markieff Morris fiasco, uninspired play that got Jeff Hornacek fired, and a spate of injuries.
They did, however, beat the Wolves two weeks ago in Phoenix in one of the more dispiriting losses of the season, overcoming a ten point halftime deficit to win despite a combined 50 points from Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, and 17 assists from Ricky Rubio. The Wolves got crushed on the boards that night, with Phoenix grabbing 19 offensive rebounds, which, along with an 11-4 advantage in made threes was the difference in that ball game.
Chandler hurt the Wolves badly on the glass that night, but has missed the last three games with injury and is unlikely to go tonight. P.J. Tucker was also a monster in that one, using his physicality to dominate around the basket and shooting well to boot. It was one of those performances that revealed the current Wolves weakness in terms of physicality at the wing spots.
In the end, Mizra Teletovic, who went 5-9 from three on the night, hit a game winner to send the Wolves home with the loss.
Hopefully the Wolves turn that around tonight. They are coming off two straight games against teams desperate for wins to make the playoffs, and performed admirably in beating the Wizards before falling to the Jazz in very difficult circumstances. It would be good to see them follow up with another strong performance against one of the few teams that they really "should" beat.
One of the bright spots for the Suns is that the injuries and losses have made room for rookie Devin Booker to get significant playing time, and he's been one of the best rookies in the league over the 2nd half of the season, not only shooting it well but showing a surprisingly diverse offensive game. He'll be someone to keep an eye on tonight, and the battle of young shooting guards with Zach LaVine should be a fun one.
The Suns started extremely small in their last game against Boston, the starting lineup from which I use below, though even if Chandler can't go, it's hard to imagine them going this small against the Wolves. The problem is that if both Chandler and Jon Leuer (illness) are unavailable, the Suns just don't have many options beyond insertingTeletovic into the lineup.
Our blogging buddies are over at Bright Side Of The Sun. Be excellent.
No no and no.
Enjoy the game. Chat here. Go Wolves.