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Preview: Suns close out season with ultra-important game vs. Timberwolves

© Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

This afternoon, the Phoenix Suns (48-33, 7th in Western Conference) close out the regular season by traveling to play the Minnesota Timberwolves (56-25, 2nd in Western Conference) in a very important game for both teams.

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The Timberwolves, who have gone 0-2 against the Suns this season, listed their two stars as questionable on the injury report yesterday, Anthony Edwards with an illness and Karl Anthony-Towns with a left meniscus tear. Towns returned to action after missing 18 straight games with this injury in Minnesota’s 109-106 victory over the Atlanta Hawks Friday, finishing with 11 points, eight assists and five rebounds in 28 minutes.

If Towns is good to go, Canis Hoopus reporter Mitchell Hansen, who covers the T-Wolves, shared some thoughts on how he could affect today’s matchup.

“Having Towns back will and already has helped Minnesota to round out the regular season,” Hansen said. “Towns played somewhat of a limited role in his return Friday against Atlanta, but his impact was felt throughout the game with his playmaking abilitym shooting the ball, on the glass and with his distribution. And when the team needed him the most down the stretch, he hit a corner 3 to put the nail in the coffin en route to a much-needed win. I think it will only help the Wolves to have an All-Star talent like Towns back to round out the regular season against Phoenix, especially while trying to counter some of the firepower the Suns have on the other end of the floor.”

For the Suns, they added backup center Drew Eubanks to the report as questionable with right ankle soreness yesterday. Eubanks has appeared in 74 of the Suns’ 80 games this season and had two points and seven rebounds in the Suns’ 108-107 victory over the Sacramento Kings Friday. A lot of fans have been calling for Thaddeus Young to play over Eubanks, so we might see that today.

Damion Lee (right meniscus surgery) will have officially missed the entire season, as he is listed as out once again after undergoing right meniscus surgery on Oct. 12, 2023.

The Suns can avoid the play-in with a win over the Timberwolves and the New Orleans Pelicans losing to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Pelicans are one game ahead of the Suns in the No. 6 seed, but Phoenix owns the tiebreaker over them. Any other outcome and Phoenix will find itself in the seventh seed.

The No. 7 seed hosts the No. 8 seed to begin the play-in, while the No. 9 seed hosts the No. 10 seed in a separate matchup. The winner of the 7-8 game advances to the playoffs to play the No. 2 seed. The loser plays the winner of the 9-10 game, and the winner of this contest advances to the playoffs to play the No. 1 seed.

Minnesota, who is currently the No. 2 seed by way of the three-way tiebreaker, can clinch the No. 1 seed with a win and the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder both losing. The Timberwolves can also reach No. 1 with a win, Denver loss and Oklahoma City win. They own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Thunder, but not the Nuggets and place No. 2 based on the multi-team tie rules if all three teams tie.

Ideally for the Suns, they would continue their dominance over Minnesota with a win, have the Lakes beat the Pelicans and see Denver and OKC both win. This would put the Suns in a 3 vs. 6 matchup with the Timberwolves, a team they will have fared very well against, and out of the play-in.

Phoenix last played Minnesota just over a week ago at home, winning 97-87, the lowest points it has allowed this season and the fewest Minnesota has scored in a game this year.

“Both teams are going to come out with a sense of urgency in the regular-season finale, something that isn’t always the case with the last game of the year and most teams sitting or resting players before the postseason,” Hansen said. “This game might end up being one of the best games of the day, with the Wolves trying to lock up the Nos. 1 or 2 seeds and the Suns fighting for the Nos. 6 and 7 seeds and whether or not they will be playing in the Play-In Tournament. Phoenix has had Minnesota’s number so far this season, taking the first two games of the year by double-digits. But the Wolves have been a tough team to play at home, and with the playoff implications and home crowd coming into play on Sunday, this should be a much closer game in Minneapolis.”

Local Game Information

Start Time: 12:30 p.m. MST

Location: Target Center

TV Channel: AZ Family/3TV

Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, La Mejor 106.5 FM

Stream: Suns Live (click for more info)

Betting Odds

Line: MIN -1.5

O/U: 216.5

Injury Report

Phoenix Suns: Drew Eubanks (right ankle soreness) QUESTIONABLE | Damion Lee (right meniscus surgery) OUT

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

Starters (Projected)

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

Minnesota Timberwolves: Mike Conley, Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Karl Anthony-Towns, Rudy Gobert

Five Keys to Game for Suns

  1. Limiting turnovers
  2. 3-point defense
  3. Ball movement
  4. Shot-making ability
  5. Playing with pace


Timberwolves 110 – Suns 102

The Suns have really been struggling on offense as of late, and this could be a game where it catches up to them going against the NBA’s No. 1 defense in terms of defensive rating, opponent points and opponent field-goal percentage. Phoenix needs to speed up the game against Minnesota and build momentum going into the playoffs or play-in, whichever one it may be. However, the Timberwolves will be extra motivated to get a win against the Suns given how the first two matchups have gone, and the Suns have not shown they are capable of playing well against a top team with their recent play.

Minnesota will take the season finale if Towns and Edwards are available for these reasons.

Last Meeting (April 5, 2024)

Suns strong defensive display shuts down Timberwolves, win 97-87

Team Matchup Notes

Each team’s player stats (via Suns):

Injury Report

Timberwolves’ 2 stars, Drew Eubanks questionable for tomorrow’s season finale

Preview: Importance of today’s game

Frank Vogel emphasizes importance, playoff implications of Suns game 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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