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Game preview: Timberwolves look to bounce back against heavyweight Suns

Karl-Anthony Towns will have his running mate Rudy Gobert back in the lineup Wednesday night after Gobert missed the last two contests. (David Berding/GI)

Just 48 hours after being booed off their own court in Monday night's loss to the middling New York Knicks, the Minnesota Timberwolves will host the Phoenix Suns at Target Center. Despite falling short in the postseason over the previous 2 years, the Suns remain one of the most complete teams in basketball and are a juggernaut in the regular season. Phoenix currently ranks 8th in offensive rating and 3rd in defensive rating. The Wolves will be up for a challenge in this matchup, and while they were competitive in their earlier matchup and loss with Phoenix last week (107-116) , their implosion against the Knicks on Monday does not strike confidence in a potential Minnesota upset.

Game Information:

Tip-Off: 7:00pm CT

Location: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

Injury Report:

MIN: None

PHX: Chris Paul, GTD (Heel); Jae Crowder, OUT (Personal), Cameron Johnson, OUT (Knee)

Game Preview:

While the Suns are now dealing with some injury problems, they will still put out one of the most complete lineups in the league on any given night. While the loss of Cameron Johnson to a torn meniscus is certainly significant (as Wolves fans know by his 29-point explosion against us last week) the Suns have plenty of candidates who can fill "next guy up" minutes such as Torrey Craig and former Wolves Dario Saric and Josh Okogie.

New to the Phoenix injury list is Chris Paul, who has arguably been the most important catalyst in the ascension of the Suns into the NBA's elite. Paul exited Phoenix's last game, a loss to the 76ers, with heel soreness in his right foot. Before his injury, Paul was averaging 9.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 9.4 assists to only 1.5 turnovers at the helm of one of the league's top 10 offenses. If Paul misses Wednesday's contest, the Suns will welcome Point Book back into their starting lineup. When Booker has been asked to facilitate in the past, he has performed well and could dissect the Wolves lackadaisical defense. After Paul exited Phoenix's last game, Booker was able to cobble together 5 assists despite his team's offensive struggles. If Paul returns and resumes facilitation duties, Booker will be able to fixate his efforts on scoring the ball.

Kenny Beecham's favorite player. (Chris Petersen/GI)

As far as the Timberwolves are concerned, the return of Rudy Gobert will hopefully provide a spark to what was an apathetic team on Monday. While any fan would hope for a win, after watching the loss to the Knicks what I want the most from Minnesota is a game where every guy who is on the floor is willing to do whatever it takes to win. Grapple for every rebound. Fight for positioning. Move with urgency. Play with purpose. Rudy actually said it best after returning from health and safety protocols today:

If the Wolves do those things, I have confidence that the fans will be satisfied, even if tonight ends in a loss. This team has talent. They have the pieces. They just need to find their identity. They need to find their heart. I believe they can and will do that, and I choose to believe that starts tonight.

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