What: Minnesota Timberwolves (4-3) at Phoenix Suns (5-1)
When: 7:00 p.m. AZ
Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM
DraftKings Bet Line: 4 Points Suns Preferred
Tonight on TNT, we get a fun pre-season game for the 2022 teams that both plan to compete for the NBA title in 2023.
And you might not realize it because the Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves look completely different on the field, but they built the rivals in a strikingly similar way.
Back in 2020, Suns veteran All-Star Chris Paul added to a sexy young core of All-Star Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges and recently named No. 1 Deandre Ayton — a group that went on to perform well late in the season and nearly make The bubble is playing in.
Now in 2022, Wolves veteran All-Star Rudi Gobert has added to an exciting young core of All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and first-choice overall Anthony Edwards – the long-delayed group – running the season and squeaking it in the playoffs by playing in championship.
Will Wolverhampton Wolves, who have had just 3 playoff wins in the last 18 years, be rewarded with a string of playoff successes like the Suns (21 playoff wins in 2 years, after a streak of 0 wins in 10 years)?
They’re counting on it – based on trading five first-round picks and a handful of good role players for the right to add the 30-year-old Joubert to their core.
I go on. Long before we get answers to these questions, we’ll be watching them play a regular game tonight.
Let’s dive into tonight’s match.
*Biyombo starts while Ayton . is out
wound / out
suns: Deandre Ayton (ankle), Jae Crowder (not with the team) and Ish Wainright (back) all came out; Tori Craig (heel) is in question
Wolves: Kyle Anderson (back) and Goran McLaughlin (heel) in question
(Courtesy of Suns PR/nba.com)
- Offense: twenty-four Defense: seventh, net rating: ninth
- Starting lineup plus minus: -0.8 per 100 drugs (at 112 minutes, the fourth most in the NBA)
This ostentatious and initially very expensive Wolves net-negative assessment is for pedestrians, but before writing off the deal, let’s go down memory lane.
Back in 2020, the new Suns lineup led by CP took a few months to wrap up. Through February 1, 2021 (after 15 games and 203 minutes together), Paul-Booker-Bridges-Ayton-Crowder’s Suns rating remains at -6.3 points per 100 ownership. It was the bench guys who grabbed the strings as starters.
The starting Suns lineup turned the scenario upside down again in 2020 with a +8 net rating the rest of the way (38 games, 506 minutes) after that paltry 15-game start. They rode that new squad all the way to the finals.
This slow start for Wolves’ new starting lineup is good, as long They stay in the race and start jelly by the second half of the season.
This is where you can color me in skepticism. While the Suns and Wolves built their teams in a similar fashion, I’m not a believer that having Gobert would do the best in Towns, Russell, or Edwards the way Paul did the best in Booker, Ayton, and Bridges.
Gobert is a very good edge protector, but he’s totally attached to the paint which blocks the driveway for Edwards and limits the chances of post-follow-on by Towns. I’ve heard that the Wolves’ best bet might be to attack Joubert and Towns as often as possible, but how do you build a team that can’t play their best with their highest-paid players on the field together?
Maybe they will find out. Maybe they won’t. Either way, you can bet I and the rest of the country will be following along, which is a plus for wolves already.
- Attack: 2nd, Defense: 4th, Net Rating: 1
- Starting lineup plus minus: +28.9 per 100 possessions (played 62 minutes)
I think you should all play the drinking game: Take a shot every time TNT commentators mention Game 7 during the broadcast. Next, come to the Suns JAM Session on YouTube to show us how drunk you are.
Look at this arrangement!
The Dallas, Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State nominees for the Most Valuable Player in Sports award are walking out the gates with losing records.
Memphis, Minnesota and Denver (barely) crossed 0.500, but even those winning records aren’t impressive. These three teams only have one win between them: Denver beat the Warriors in Game Two. This is it.
The Suns are the only Western competitor to have a great start, with wins over the Mavericks, Pelicans, Clippers and Warriors already in their belts.
I have to hand it over to We thought they were tanks The Blazers (5-1), Tottenham (5-2), and the Jazz (6-2), who simply beat West at the start of the season. No, I don’t see any of these teams doing playoffs. Heck, I don’t even see them win 30 games. They will quickly fight for the lottery odds, but now it’s fun to watch.
The Suns (0-1 against these teams so far) will have Portland twice this weekend, but not face the Jazz or Tottenham for weeks – at which time it’s very likely that they’ve lost their spark early in the season.
In regards to tonight’s match with the Wolves, the Ayton-less Suns will likely battle in paint against Gobert and Towns. And this might be one of those games that miss Jae Crowder’s toughness and ability to defend players bigger than him, especially since Torrey Craig might also miss the game with a sore heel.
Having said that, though, the Joubert/Townes starting lineup is already on the decline less More than half of the bounces available (49.2% bounce rate) so far while Suns owns more than half (52.4%). Let’s see if those numbers hold because the Suns will fight in the paint with only Biyombo and Jock Landale. Maybe we get to see Dario?
The sun is now sailing, while the wolves are still making their way into the field. I expect Suns to take this game seriously and win it easily.
The Suns will win, 110-95