Game Day Open Thread: Phoenix Suns vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Phoenix Suns
Minnesota Timberwolves
50-25 19-55
7:00 PM Pacific / 10:00 PM Eastern
TV: FSN AZ HD, NBA League Pass
Probable starters:
Steve Nash PG Randy Foye
Raja Bell SG Marko Jaric
Grant Hill SF Corey Brewer
Amare Stoudemire PF Ryan Gomes
Shaquille O'Neal C Al Jefferson

The SUNS starting lineup has 50 years more NBA experience than the starting lineup of the Timberwolves (66 to 16, including this year).  However, that didn't stop the lowly Timberwovles youth movement from devouring the SUNS in their last meeting in frigid -20 Minnesota.  Nor the previous game in Minnesota that the SUNS also dropped.

Basically, the SUNS are looking escape the season series with the T-wolves with a tie.  

Was it the cold weather in Minny? The weather should be no excuse, since the cold weather doesn't explain that game the SUNS lost at home to the bottom-feeding Miami Heat in December.  

These types of losses to the worst teams in the NBA are not the ones to lose sleep over, but they do raise puzzles for fans along the lines:

[1a] Unfavorable schedule?  Were the losses were the result of odd scheduling quirks that favored the T-wolves?
[2a] Lack of Size?  In both case, size matchups (Al Jefferson and Craig Smith in Minny and Shaq and Mourning in Miami) were an issue. Says Jerry Zgoda/Star Tribune:

"The Wolves have beaten the Suns two out of three times this season, and remember Minnesota has won only 19 games. In those two victories at Target Center, Wolves young star Al Jefferson exposed the Suns' soft underbelly with a 32-point, 20-rebound game the first time, a 39-point, 15-rebound game the second time."  
[3a] Hubris?   A sense of entitlement that at 50 win team ought to beat a 19-win team without coming to play?

We can blame a lot of things, but the current situation is as follows:

[1b]  Minny just took a beating in Utah last night, while the SUNS have been licking their wounds the past few days.  The schedule and location favors the SUNS.  Problem 1 - solved.
[2b]  Sloan just got done praising the T-wolves physicality and brutal screens ("I really like their team, the way they play, they way they set screens and they knock you around," Sloan said.).  However, the SUNS now have the biggest bruiser in the NBA.  Expect the SUNS not to bother double-teaming Jefferson much this game.  Problem 2 - solved.
[3b]  Hubris and whiny behavior.  The situation coming into tonight's game could only be worse if it were Nationally Televised at high noon.  Open Issue.

I personally believe that explanation 2 holds the most weight.  As the Coach sayeth, "small and slow is not a good combo."

However, if the SUNS do not come out and crush the young and tough T-Wolves, I'm going to have to call it "Shame on the Suns - hubris and an undeserved sense of entitlement in the desert."  

Remember the post-game interviews where D'Antoni would agonize over these losses, saying they might come back to bite us at the end of the season?

Well, guess what?  Wouldn't you like to have those games against Minnesota and Miami back??

As an unrelated side note - The SUNS are once again in the heat of Least Valuable Player voting, this time the longshot LVP candidate is the Bench, inclusive. Yay, team!

As usual, live blogging will start in the comments of this post at tipoff. Check TwolvesBlog for the view from the Timberwolves' side. Here's an interview by Wolves Reporter Mike Trudell with reporter Stefan Swiat.

Update [2008-4-4 17:27:0 by Phoenix Stan]:

If a wolf poops in the desert....

From all the interest this game is getting one would think we were playing the worst team in the league.

Not so! The Timberpuppies have climbed all the way out of the cellar over the rotting corpses of the Heat and the rapidly cooling carcasses of the "To-Be-Named-Laters" (hit tip to HP Reader To-Be-Named-Later) and are nipping at the heals of the Knicks, Grizz and Smush-lead Clippers.

But in the end, with the battle for lottery position really heating up I except the Suns to fully oblige with a dog-beating that would make Michael Vick proud.

ah, the sweet smell of hubris...