• Coming off a 119-96 destruction of the Kings, the Wolves continue the five-game homestand with the Suns.

    Minnesota has faced the Suns twice already on the season, going 1-1 in those games. Devin Booker missed the last game between these teams and will miss this matchup as well. Phoenix will turn to T.J. Warren to carry the offensive load.

    Since their last meeting the Suns have gone 2-7 and now sit with a record of 9-21 on the season. It’s been a bit of a mess in Phoenix with their head coach getting fired, drama surrounding their best player, a vast number of injuries and generally poor play on the court.

    The Suns rank 30th in the NBA in opponents points per game and defensive rating, and rank 24th in offensive rating. The team ranks 11th in points per game, though largely as a result of the quick pace of play. They rank 3rd fastest in pace, so they generate more possessions per game allowing more opportunities to score.

    The team isn’t afraid to shoot the ball and try to score, they just aren’t efficient whatsoever. They rank 1st in field goals attempted, but 22nd in field goal percentage, 29th in 3-point percentage, and 19th in free throw percentage.

    Defensively they are just as bad. They allow the most field goals attempted per game, while ranking 25th in field goal percentage, 20th in 3-point percentage and 23rd in free throw rate, which is a calculation based on free throws per field goal. This means they struggle to defend without fouling.

    They also don’t generate turnovers ranking last in turnover percentage and only 16th in turnovers per game, which given their pace should be much higher.

    There really isn’t a single thing the team does well. They rely on offense by sheer volume, but it’s chaotic and inefficient (unlike the Huston Rockets for example, which is organized chaos). They don’t play good defense, instead relying on athletic individual plays. They’re also missing their current best player.

    The Wolves should frankly have no problem at home in this game. Perhaps the score runs up a little bit, but as long as the Wolves are getting back in transition, especially when Warren leaks out, they should be able to stop the Suns enough times in the half court offense to win going away.

    Quick injury news, Thibs announced that Nemanja Bjelica is still a week “or so” away from returning.

    Key Matchups:

    – Andrew Wiggins vs. T.J. Warren

    – Jeff Teague vs. Tyler Ulis

    Once again Wiggins will face his clone in Warren. T.J. loves to leak out  on defense and cherry pick to his own basket to pick up free points. Warren also doesn’t have much of a jump shot and relies on one-on-one slashing to the rim for most of his offense, and mid-range jumpers.

    Warren looks so much like Wiggins did early in his career, and in fact not much has changed since then. Wiggins does shoot from the perimeter better than Warren, and is a better defender, but the similarities are there.

    So long as Wiggins keeps Warren from leaking out in the fastbreak, and stay in front of him in the half court, Wigs should have a good time guarding Warren.

    For Teague, he’s going to have to play that safety role will plenty of Suns willing to leak out onto offense. They won’t be able to stop them all but being able to slow down that portion of the Suns’ offense will be key.

    Ulis is a quick, small point guard that has begun to fit better into the Suns starting lineup. Ulis loves to pass ahead of the pack and play in that quick transition offense so Teague will have to keep Ulis as slowed down as possible.

    Projected Lineups:

    Jeff Teague – PG

    Jimmy Butler – SG

    Andrew Wiggins – SF

    Taj Gibson – PF

    Karl-Anthony Towns – C

    vs.

    Tyler Ulis – PG

    Josh Jackson – SG

    T.J. Warren – SF

    Marquese Chriss – PF

    Tyson Chandler – C

    Injuries:

    Nemanja Bjelica (foot) – OUT

    Devin Booker (toe) – OUT

    Tyson Chandler (personal) – ACTIVE

    Brandon Knight (knee) – OUT

    Alex Len (hip) – ACTIVE

    Davon Reed (knee) – OUT

    Alan Williams (knee) – OUT

    Where to Watch:

    8:00 ET/7:00 CT on Fox Sports North

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