clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Game Preview #43: Wolves vs Suns

Minnesota hosts a spectacularly short-handed Phoenix squad into Target Center for a Friday nigh showdown

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Minnesota Timberwolves Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info

What To Watch For

What Wolves team will show up?

I mean, this is really it. We’ll expand on a couple other items, but nothing else matters at all if this team just doesn’t show up. It has gotten so repetitive that it is exhausting at this point, but it’s the theme of the whole season so far. They’re a team that hovers around and below .500 because you can’t trust them to beat anyone. They have the talent to play with and beat anyone when they’re locked in, but they too often act as if they’re all three-time champions who can coast through the regular season and flip the proverbial switch when March rolls around.

That’s what’s so frustrating about this team. This should be an absolute blast of an evening, hosting another injury-riddled team in the Phoenix Suns on a Friday night. We should walk into Target Center tonight knowing that this team will handle business and make it a great night for everyone in attendance.

To that note, the Wolves just have to take advantage of this opportunity. Phoenix is such a different team without Devin Booker, which makes it so important for Minnesota to turn what may have looked like a loss when the schedule came out a very winnable game. Phoenix is 18-11 when Booker plays, which would make them just 3-11 when he sits. On top of that, Chris Paul and Cameron Johnson are both out tonight as well (among others), leaving Phoenix severely short-handed. Minnesota has to win this game.

We can’t bank on that, though, because this team is just as likely to lay an egg as they are to come out guns blazing. They survived playing down to their competition in Houston, but were embarrassed in Detroit when they couldn’t survive Anthony Edwards needing to sit for one half of basketball.

On that note...

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Detroit Pistons Allison Farrand-USA TODAY Sports

How is Anthony Edwards hip?

I know the Minnesota Timberwolves are going through it as far as injuries go, but it is still embarrassing that this team hasn’t been able to give Ant a night off to rest his hip and get back to 100%. Regardless, how mobile Edwards is will go a long ways in determining the outcome of this game. It’s become ever apparent that the offense just can’t stay afloat without him on the court during this stretch without Karl-Anthony Towns.

If Edwards looks healthy-ish, the team should be fine. If he looks hobbled the way he did when he bizarrely returned to the game in Detroit after being ruled out, the Wolves will be in trouble. They are asking a ton of Edwards right now, and anything less than his best leaves any outcome in doubt. Ant is as tough as they come, but it should’ve never come to this.

Can the Wolves get Jaylen Nowell going?

With Edwards playing at less than 100%, the Wolves desperately need Nowell to find his game. He’s had a really rough season so far, but with a scorer like Jaylen, it’s all about the next shot and the next opportunity. He no doubt has another opportunity tonight to right the ship and get his season back on track.

He seems like one of the people who has been most impacted by the loss of Jordan McLaughlin, but he really just needs to let the game come to him a bit. You can see Nowell pressing nearly every time he touches the ball. He’s often trying to make the home-run play when a simple ball reversal or straight-line drive against a close-out would suffice. The Wolves need Nowell to keep things simple and take what the defense gives him. He’s such a naturally talented scorer that if he can just do that, he’ll walk into 15 points tonight.

The best version of Nowell changes the math for the Wolves, and they’ll need him to show up tonight.

Injury Report

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Anthony Edwards: QUESTIONABLE — left hip soreness
  • Kyle Anderson: QUESTIONABLE — illness
  • Taurean Prince: QUESTIONABLE — left ankle spraiin
  • Karl-Anthony Towns: OUT — calf strain
  • Jordan McLaughlin: OUT — left calf strain
  • Josh Minott: OUT — G-league assignment

Phoenix Suns

  • Deandre Ayton: QUESTIONABLE — left ankle sprain
  • Devin Booker: OUT — left groin strain
  • Jae Crowder: OUT — not with team
  • Cameron Johnson: OUT — right meniscus tear
  • Chris Paul: OUT — right hip soreness
  • Cameron Payne: OUT — right foot sprain
  • Landry Shamet: OUT — right hip soreness