Now it’s up to Phoenix to be similarly punctual with a bounce-back effort after last night’s loss to Chicago.
Minnesota is far from an easy test, with All-Star forward Kevin Love (26.4 ppg, 13.3 rpg) leading a Timberwolves team that has quietly won four of their last six.
Love, however, is not the only thing to keep an eye on tonight.
Will Suns Respond Yet Again?
Phoenix hasn’t lost back-to-back games since Dec. 3, and they have every reason to be eager for another bounce-back effort.
No reason may matter more than forgetfulness. Tuesday was the epitome of a bad day at work: terrible travel (17-hour plane delay), bitter conditions (see: Polar Vortex) and simply an off-day (40 percent shooting, 87 points).
In short, Phoenix would love nothing more than to flush yesterday out of its collective memory.
Can Bench Break Out?
Before leaving Phoenix, Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek said 36 minutes or more of game action would probably be too many for the starters with the upcoming slate of games.
Several players came close to that mark last night. Goran Dragic (34), Gerald Green (35) and Miles Plumlee (35) played more than Hornacek would have preferred, largely because a big-time offensive performance didn’t surface from the bench.
With Green’s production a necessity with the starters due to Eric Bledsoe’s knee injury, the Suns will be counting on more from the Morris twins, who combined for 10 points at Chicago
Can Suns Solve Rebounding Woes?
Phoenix was once again exposed on the glass by a physical frontline, allowing Joakim Noah to collect more boards (16) than any two Suns combined in Tuesday’s loss.
Kevin Love, the second-best rebounder in the league, is up next. Channing Frye, Miles Plumlee and Markieff Morris will need to keep a body on him and Nikola Pekovic (9.3 rpg) at all times.
Which Off-Guard Goes Off?
Gerald Green vs. Kevin Martin makes for a potentially dynamic offensive matchup. Green is putting up nearly 16 points, including a trio of three-pointers, per contest as a starter. Martin joins Love in the league’s top 20 in scoring (19.7 ppg) and hits over 90 percent of his free throw attempts.
Both guards boast considerable size (Green is 6-8, Martin 6-7) and speed. As offensive x-factors for their respective teams, either one could decide the outcome.
Can Defense Contain T-Wolves?
Despite sporting just a .500 record, Minnesota scores the second-most points in the NBA (107.4 ppg). Over their last six games, they’re averaging a whopping 117 points per contest.
Hornacek was not pleased with the Suns’ defense last night, which allowed 92 points despite the team missing its top three scorers due to either injury or recent trades.
Minnesota makes for a much bigger offensive threat, and they are healthy. Phoenix will need a far better defensive showing, particularly early in order to prevent shooters from getting into a game-long rhythm.