• After falling to the Warriors on Wednesday night the T-Wolves are looking to get back on track versus a rebuilding Phoenix Suns team.

    The Suns have lost five in a row, they’ve fired their head coach and they traded their best player only 13 games into the season. Eric Bledsoe hardly suited up for the Suns before demanding a trade over social media, then the team essentially barred Bledsoe from returning to the facilities (not that he wanted to be there anyway).

    That basically sums up the uphill climb the team has had to face this early in the season. On top of dealing with all of the drama the team just isn’t all that good. They have a number of talented players, but they are young, raw and lack proper guidance at the moment (clearly).

    Devin Booker leads the way in scoring at 22.3 points per game while only just turning 21 years old. He’s dead-eye shooter from deep, and his overall offensive game has improved year-to-year. It’s the rest of his game that stands to improve. He’s not the greatest play-maker and his defense leaves a lot to be desired.

    T.J. Warren was born in the wrong era as a wing player that loves to slash, shoot the mid-range and avoid the three-point line. He’s very talented at what he does though and it makes for a nice combination with Booker. He’s only 24 years old.

    Josh Jackson was the 4th-overall pick from the past draft and was seeing a lot of minutes under Earl Watson, but his playing time has become inconsistent since his firing.

    Then up front Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender have loads of talent with length, athleticism and an ability to knock down long distance shots, but have plenty of rough spots that need to be worked out. Each player is 20-years old.

    The idea for the Suns is these key pieces can somehow fit together into something special, and to get some production from some more unexpected sources like Tyler Ulis or Mike James.

    Right now is not that time though. They have the talent to sneak up on teams, and they have the ability to outscore many teams, but they haven’t quite figured out how to put everything together that this juncture. With all the drama they’ve faced already, it’s looking to be a long road ahead.

    Key Matchups:

    – Jimmy Butler vs. Devin Booker

    – Andrew Wiggins vs. T.J. Warren

    The Phoenix Suns aren’t a particularly difficult team to guard. The big men set screens for Devin Booker on the perimeter and Booker gets in motion. James has the option to hit Booker, take it to the lane himself if there’s an opening or hit the big man popping out or back-cutting to the rim.

    That’s basically their main offense. They run in transition whenever they get the chance because they don’t have much of an offense and their normally the most athletic team on the court.

    The Wolves tend to prefer the slower, half-court game. If the Wolves are able to keep the Suns from scoring in transition, they should have a fairly easy time defending the half-court.

    Butler will see time opposite of Booker in what could be a fun battle. Booker isn’t afraid to shoot from anywhere so Butler is going to have to keep close at all times, or communicate to his teammates when he can’t pick him up.

    On the other end this could be a prime time for Jimmy Buckets to breakout once again. Booker doesn’t stand much of a chance defensively, Butler is stronger, bigger and arguably faster.

    Jimmy has been mostly passive in looking for his shot to this moment, but said leading into this game he said that it could be time to become more aggressive on offense. That’s music to the ears of Wolves’ fans if Butler can add even more to this already thriving offense.

    Wiggins taking on T.J. Warren will be like facing a lesser version of himself. Warren prefers to play off the dribble and driving to the rim. Wiggins has the athletic advantage but Warren is not like a player he’s had to face this season. He can’t give him to much space to gather a head of steam, but Wiggins needs to be careful not to leave his feet on the perimeter.

    Lineups:

    Jeff Teague

    Jimmy Butler

    Andrew Wiggins

    Taj Gibson

    Karl-Anthony Towns

    vs.

    Tyles Ulis

    Devin Booker

    T.J. Warren

    Marquese Chriss

    Tyson Chandler

    Injuries:

    Cole Aldrich (ankle) – OUT

    Gorgui Dieng (finger) – OUT

    Justin Patton (foot) – OUT

    Jared Dudley (knee) – OUT

    Brandon Knight (knee) – OUT

    Greg Monroe (calf) – OUT

    Davon Reed (knee) – OUT

    Alan Williams (knee) – OUT

    Where to Watch:

    9:00 ET/8:00 CT on Fox Sports North+

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