Mar. 1, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward (42) Kevin Love and center (14) Nikola Pekovic against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Timberwolves 104-95. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns (24-55) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (29-50) Preview

In the third to last game of this disappointing and frustrating season for the Phoenix Suns, they need to continue to plod on until the basketball year comes to a merciful end for them next week.

Some people say “the future is now”. Well that isn’t true for the men in orange and purple. The future is the future. The potential draft picks and the hopeful nature of the off-season with free agency, cause the players to look ahead instead of focusing on the games directly in front of them in some respect.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are in almost the same spot as Phoenix, just a few games better record-wise and the reason for their dismal season is injury, as opposed to talent, as is the case with the Suns.

ESPN’s betting line on this game seems to think Minnesota’s slightly better record will ultimately be a determining factor in who should win this game, seeing as the Timberwolves are favored by 4.5 points.

In terms of missing games, Michael Beasley is expected to play Saturday after missing two games for the birth of his daughter. Jermaine O’Neal missed Sunday’s game with a lower leg injury, but played Tuesday and Wednesday and should play against Minnesota.

On the Timberwolves roster, they are getting slightly healthier. Now they only have Brandon Roy, who has been out for most of the season, reportedly wanting to play in one more game before season’s end. The only other injuries are to Nikola Pekovic and Ricky Rubio. Pekovic missed Friday’s game with a left calf contusion and is listed as day-to-day, while Rubio hasn’t missed any games recently with his apparently minor shoulder injury.

Keys to the game: Suns

  • With Kevin Love sidelined with his wrist injury, there isn’t a superstar playing for the Timberwolves. Phoenix needs to play basic defense from the inside out to not let anybody get in the paint.
  • On offense it is the basic fundamentals. Move the ball so that you have the ability to take good shots, and don’t turn the ball over.

Keys to the game: Timberwolves

  • Even without Pekovic, Minnesota can attack the basket, since the Suns don’t have Marcin Gortat available. They need to get into the paint and get easy baskets.
  • Minnesota needs to knock down some threes! They are last in the league in three-point field goal percentage (with the Suns right in front of them). If the Timberwolves can hit from behind the arc, they can win this game.

X-Factor!

If Nikola Pekovic plays in this game then he will be the determining factor in who wins the game. His size inside, rebounding ability and his accuracy around the rim make him a formidable match-up nightmare.

Match-up to watch:

The match-up that will be interesting is Markieff Morris versus Derrick Williams. Both of these players are athletic and talented, but aren’t the focal point of the future of their franchise. They both also have issues rebounding consistently despite their athleticism.

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Tags: Basketball Minnesota Timberwolves NBA Phoenix Suns Sports

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