Phoenix is coming off its fourth win in five games, possibly peaking at just the right time as the season winds down.
The Timberwolves offer an interesting test to that momentum after going 10-5 over their last 15 contests.
Will the Suns keep up their current string of success? Five factors will play role in the outcome.
Offense is normally not a huge concern for this year’s Suns, but they have struggled in both the previous meetings against Minnesota this season.
Phoenix shot just 42.8 percent combined over those two games, well below their season average of 46.1 percent.
Ready for Bledsoe?
Another thing those two games had in common: the absence of Suns guard Eric Bledsoe.
On Friday against the Pistons the fourth-year playmaker turned in his best performance since returning from knee surgery, finishing with 23 points, five assists, five rebounds and three steals.
Considering the previous two games against Minnesota were both close affairs, it’s safe to say Bledsoe could be a game-changing difference in the grudge match.
Minnesota starting center Nikola Pekovic (17.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg) was reportedly doubtful for Sunday’s game, leaving rookie big man Gorgui Deng the likely replacement.
That’s good news for the Suns, who had already proven capable of countering the Love/Pekovic combination by outrebounding the Timberwolves 50-38 in their previous meeting.
With the previous point in mind, it will be interesting to see if Miles Plumlee can continue his recent resurgence. Friday’s game marked the first time since late January the second-year center scored in consecutive games, and he’s been active and involved over the past week.
If the Suns can get more of that, the Timberwolves’ potentially thinned front line will be hard-pressed to keep pace.
The Suns would love to continue their recent trend of solid defense. In their last two wins, Phoenix has held their opponents to averages of 92.5 points and 41.8 percent shooting.
Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek said after Friday’s win he’d like to see a healthy balance of offense and defense. The latter will likely be the more pressing issue after giving up 103 and 110 points to Minnesota in their last two meetings, respectively.