Suns dealt bad news with injury update to West rival

The Phoenix Suns need everything to go their way to make the playoffs, and the latest injury news from elsewhere out West does not help at all.
Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns
Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

The Phoenix Suns have not had the season that many envisioned for them, and right now sit on the cusp of being part of a play-in dogfight to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. This despite having a "Big 3" that promised so much, but have largely left fans wanting more this season.

Whereas many thought that the destiny of this organization would be in their own hands in April, the reality has been anything but for this group. Although they will make the postseason proper if they just win all of their remaining games, jostling for position in the conference is largely going to be decided for them.

Which makes the latest injury news out of the Minnesota Timberwolves camp exactly what the Suns did not want to hear at this point in the season.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Run It Back podcast, Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns participated in on-court scrimmage for his team on Sunday. There is now growing optimism that he will not only be available for the playoffs, but potentially to end the regular season as well.

Which makes life harder for the Suns, for three simple and massive reasons. The first is that the Suns just got the better of the Timberwolves recently, and the fact they did not have Towns to attack either Jusuf Nurkic, Drew Eubanks or Bol Bol while traditional center Rudy Gobert did damage inside was a real bonus.

The second is that a single game in the loss column separates the top three teams in the West. They are the Oklahoma City Thunder (who recently beat the Suns convincingly), the Denver Nuggets (Suns have beaten them twice in the last five weeks, but they are defending champions), and the Timberwolves.

So the prospect of a first-round matchup against Minnesota is a strong possibility, and Towns being back and having gotten a couple of games under his belt would be a disaster for the Suns. In a season where they have been cursed with their own injury luck to the likes of Bradley Beal and even Devin Booker, seeing Towns back out there in a series would be the worst of all.

Finally - and perhaps most importantly - the Suns still have one remaining regular season game against the Timberwolves. In fact it is the Suns' last game of the 82 game slog, and it comes after two games versus the L.A. Clippers, as well as a visit to the Sacramento Kings.

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It seems worth noting that Charania has mentioned that Towns could be back out there before the playoffs start, and the matchup versus the Suns is the latest possibility that could happen. Which also means it is the most likely time for him to come back from injury, with the Timberwolves not likely to rush Towns onto the court before then.

Which is just bad news all round for the Suns. All season long they've struggled for center depth behind the limited Nurkic, and the Timberwolves represent a massive problem because they have two high level bigs who start next to one another. Kevin Durant guarding Towns for 40 minutes is not how you want to try and win a game - never mind a series - if you're the Suns. Not good news.