NBA: Love visits Phoenix
Suns vs. Timberwolves Preview
By: Brendan Kennealy
The Phoenix Suns have come out of the all-star break firing on all cylinders, winning three of four, with a stretch of four straight games upcoming against sub-.500 teams.
The Suns (33-22) welcome defending Western Conference Player of the Week Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves (27-29) to town on Tuesday night.
Phoenix fell behind big to the Houston Rockets on Sunday night during their nationally televised game on ESPN. They were trailing by as many as 18 points in the second quarter, before mounting an amazing comeback and taking a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. The Suns squandered that lead late however, eventually dropping the match 115-112.
The resilience shown was tremendous and they showed the nation that they are the real deal and a force to be reckoned with coming down the stretch run.
In order to beat the Timberwolves on Tuesday they must achieve each of the three following keys:
- Shut Down Kevin Love
- It is no secret that the key to Minnesota’s game is going through Love on the offensive side of the ball. He comes in to the game averaging 26.5ppg (4th in the NBA) and 13.2rpg (2nd in the NBA). If the Suns can keep him on the perimeter and force the ball out of his hands, while making other players like Kevin Martin and Ricky Rubio handle the offense the Suns chances to win will increase significantly.
2. Force “One-and-Outs”
- It happened repeatedly against Houston on Sunday when Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones swallowed up offensive rebounds, resulting in multiple attempts at the offensive end. The T’Wolves average 12.9 offensive rebounds per game, so keeping them off of the offensive boards will prove huge in the grand scheme of things.
3. Get Out to a Fast Start
- It seems that, this season in particular, the Suns constantly jump out to an early lead at home. This was the exact opposite the other night where they trailed at the end of the first quarter 30-16. If they can get out of the gates quickly, they can put this game away by the end of the first half, depending of course on whether or not they can shut down Love. Basketball is a game of runs and getting the first run of the game will prove huge against Minnesota.
The Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves will tip off at 7:00 p.m. MT at US Airways Center on Tuesday night.
You can reach Brendan Kennealy by email at Brendan.firstname.lastname@example.org and/or via twitter at @brendankennealy