Dec 29, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic (1) dribbles through Minnesota Timberwolves guard Luke Ridnour (13) and forward Kevin Love (42) during the first quarter at the Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns (23-46) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (23-43) Preview


Something’s gotta give.

Both the Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves are hampered with injuries and mired in losses to the point that they are drowning. They are sinking in the whirlpool created when a team doesn’t have enough talent to compete in the league.

The only difference between the squads is that Minnesota is mostly losing because All-Star Kevin Love (their best player) is still out after breaking his hand two different times, while Phoenix just doesn’t have the talent and are beginning a rebuild.

Somebody has to win Friday as the Suns host the Timberwolves. A loss tonight would be especially devastating or exciting, depending on how you look at it, but definitely inevitable, because of the stat The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro tweeted today.

 

The betting line ESPN gives for this game is -3 for Phoenix, meaning they should win by three points. That doesn’t mean much, because that is only a one possession game and anything can happen, but ESPN probably put that line, because Minnesota is barely better than Phoenix record-wise, but doesn’t have Love playing.

In terms of injury, other than Kevin Love, Chase Budinger returned to the court Thursday for Minnesota after missing most of the season with a knee injury, and should play tonight. Ricky Rubio had a minor groin injury, which is a non-issue.

For the Suns, they are still without Marcin Gortat, and now Jermaine O’Neal is questionable for the game with a calf injury according to the Suns official Twitter feed. Jared Dudley may also miss the game with flu-like symptoms.

Keys to the game: Suns

  • Don’t let Ricky Rubio penetrate the paint and break down the defense; make him a shooter. Also, Goran Dragic needs to go at him on the offensive end, because he is not good at defense.
  • Watch the offensive rebounding and don’t turn the ball over if you want to win.

Keys to the game: Timberwolves

  • The Timberwolves need to capitalize on the Suns’ lack of size due to injury if they want to come out with a victory.
  • They have the opportunity to win the game if they can get some bench production and pick on a team as bad as they are in the Suns.

X-Factor!

Three-point shooting! These teams are the worst (MIN at .294) and second-to-worst (PHX at .324) in field-goal percentage behind the arc. Also, the Suns are the worst in the NBA in opponent’s three-point percentage giving up almost 40 percent from behind the three-point line. Whoever gets hot from deep will win.

Match-up to watch:

Nikola Pekovic versus the Suns’ frontcourt. How much of an impact Pekovic has on the game will determine who comes out victorious.  Phoenix will have trouble keeping Pekovic out of the paint, who is averaging 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds this year, because they are without centers Marcin Gortat and Jermaine O’Neal.

 

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