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Preview: Suns host NBA’s No. 1 defense in Timberwolves

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns (45-31, 6th in Western Conference) go for their third-straight win tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves (53-23, 1st in Western Conference) in their second matchup of a four-game homestand.

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Jusuf Nurkić was added to the injury report as questionable with left calf soreness for the Suns. It is unclear when Nurkić sustained this injury. Nurkić is averaging 11.2 points and 11 rebounds across 71 games for Phoenix, and the Suns are 1-4 without him this season. Grayson Allen (left hip soreness) is probable after missing last game.

Meanwhile for the Timberwolves (53-23), Karl Anthony-Towns will miss his 15th straight game with a left meniscus tear. Minnesota has gone 10-4 since Towns has been out, and Naz Reid has averaged 18.8 points and 6.3 rebounds filling in for KAT in the starting lineup since he was injured.

These two teams have not played since way back on Nov. 15 when the Suns snapped Minnesota’s then 7-game win streak with a blow-out 133-115 victory. Devin Booker scored 31 points on 12-of-22 shooting in only 26 minutes in the win, while Kevin Durant also had 31 points on a very efficient 11-of-15 shooting to go along with six assists and six rebounds.

Both teams are coming off blow-out victories in their previous games.

The Suns beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 122-101 Wednesday night, Phoenix’s second-straight big win against a quality opponent (won 124-111 over Pelicans Monday). Booker (40 points, nine assists) and Durant (32 points, seven assists and six rebounds) combined for 72 points and kept Phoenix in the driver’s seat for most of the game, helping them comeback from any Cleveland runs. The Suns had 32 assists as a team and cashed in on 18 3-pointers.

Minnesota nearly beat the Toronto Raptors by 50 on Wednesday, securing a 133-85 win at home. Anthony Edwards led Minnesota with 28 points and six assists, while Reid contributed 23 points and seven rebounds. The Timberwolves held Toronto to 36.7% shooting, 23.3% 3-point shooting and forced 20 turnovers.

Minnesota enters tonight as the league’s best defense with a defensive rating (points allowed per possession) of 107.8, nearly three points better than any other team. Opponents shoot 44.6% against Minnesota and average 106 points per game, which both are the lowest opponent marks in the NBA.

So what do the Suns have to do coming in to face a prolific defense after two straight big wins?

“Don’t settle,” coach Frank Vogel said at practice yesterday. “We played a good basketball game, not a great basketball game (against Cleveland) and good is the enemy are great. And we got a stronger opponent coming in (tonight, Minnesota). But to get a 20-point win against the third-ranked team in the Eastern Conference is a big-time win for us. So we’re happy with it. We watched film on many ways that we could have been even better, and we have to continue to push down a little bit to rise our level because of the games we have coming up.”

Local Game Information

Start Time: 7:00 p.m. MST

Location: Footprint Center

TV Channel: AZ Family/3TV, NBA TV

Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, La Mejor 106.5 FM

Stream: Suns Live (click for more info)

Betting Odds

Line: PHX -4.5

O/U: 226.5

Injury Report

Phoenix Suns: Jusuf Nurkić (left calf soreness) QUESTIONABLE | Grayson Allen (left hip soreness) PROBABLE | Damion Lee (right meniscus surgery) OUT

Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl Anthony-Towns (left meniscus tear OUT | Jaylen Clark (right achilles tendon rupture rehab) OUT

Starters (Projected)

Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Grayson Allen, Kevin Durant, Jusuf Nurkić/Drew Eubanks

Minnesota Timberwolves: Mike Conley, Anthony Edwardss, Jaden McDaniels, Naz Reid, Rudy Gobert

Five Keys to Game for Suns

  1. Limiting turnovers
  2. Defense leading to offense
  3. Ball movement
  4. Creating good looks
  5. Containing Anthony Edwards


Suns 115 – Timberwolves 105

This is the Suns’ third-straight game against an opponent that is really good defensively, but plays at a slow pace (Minnesota ranks 22nd), and the Suns have been able to show that they can play extremely well against these teams. With that being said, Minnesota can easily cause problems for the Suns if they are able to force a lot of turnovers and get them out of rhythm with their No. 1-ranked defense. The key for Phoenix in these last few games have been to focus on defense and let it play into offense, which has proven to be pretty much unguardable when Devin Booker and Kevin Durant are playing at the level they are.

The Suns just have to continue this same strategy and not force shots offensively and don’t turn the ball over, as mentioned before. You can live with missing good looks, which the Suns have shown very capable of creating these last few games. In short, Phoenix just has to stay disciplined on both sides of the ball, which I foresee them continuing to do.

Last Meeting (Nov. 15, 2023)

No Beal, no problem- Suns snap Timberwolves 7-game win streak

Team Matchup Notes

Everything to know about the Suns and Timberwolves before their second meeting this season (via Suns):

Each team’s stats (via Suns):

Preview: Injury report

Suns starter pops up on injury report vs. Timberwolves

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Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau


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