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Preview: Suns, Wolves has lots of friendly faces

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Ricky Rubio was loved in Phoenix, while Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell are close with Devin Booker

Minnesota Timberwolves v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

What: Phoenix Suns (21-11, 10-5 away) at Minnesota Timberwolves (7-27, 4-11 home)

When: 7:00 p.m. MST

Where: Target Center, Minnesota

Watch: Fox Sports Arizona, NBA League Pass

Listen: 98.7 FM


Ricky Rubio is back!

OK. Not quite. But the Suns are set to face off against the Spaniard in the first game since they packaged him and others in a trade for Chris Paul, who is now an 11-time All-Star.

Phoenix currently holds the fourth-best record in the West and Minnesota has the worst record in the league. So, it’s not exactly a marquee matchup. However, the Suns can’t let their guard down and “Papa Ricky” will be looking to do all he can to make his former team feel his pain.

After beating the Chicago Bulls, the Suns are looking to build a new winning streak before the first half of the schedule is over. Let’s see if they can stop Rubio and be at their best against the Wolves.

This game also marks a chance for Devin Booker to say hey to two of his best friends in Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell.

Projected Starters

Suns: Chris Paul/Devin Booker/Mikal Bridges/Jae Crowder/Deandre Ayton

Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio/Josh Okogie/Anthony Edwards/Jarred Vanderbilt/Karl-Anthony Towns

Injury Report

Suns - Dario Saric is questionable again with an ankle injury

Timberwolves - Malik Beasley is out due to suspension; D’Angelo Russell is out due to leg surgery

Hola, Ricky!

Again, this will be the first time the Suns face their former point guard since the trade that sent him to the Thunder for their new point guard. Rubio was traded again shortly after to the Wolves. He’s had a rough season, spending most of it on the bench but with D’Angelo Russell being hurt, he’s been thrown back into the starting role. He will go face to face with his replacement.

Ricky has been much better in a full time starting role. Over the last 10 games, he is posting 11.1 points (43% on 3.7 3PA) and 7.2 assists per game.

Good to see you, KAT!

Karl-Anthony Towns has gone through a lot. If you haven’t heard by now, he lost several close family members to Covid-19, including his mother. The man then had to battle the virus himself. He hasn’t put up quite the numbers the NBA audience is used to but it’s nice to just see him back on the court. Ayton needs to be ready as KAT’s “breakout” game will be coming soon.

Even in relative obscurity, KAT is posting 22.7 points (40% on 5.2 3PA), 10 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.5 blocks over the last 10 games since returning from sickness.

Struggling Wolves

Despite Ricky and KAT playing well, they have lost 9 of their last 10 games. And now they have lost their minutes leader Malik Beasley, who was suspended by the league for 10 games for off-court criminal activity.

Earlier this week, they fired Ryan Saunders and brought in a coach from an entirely different team — Chris Finch, from the Raptors, who had worked with the Wolves GM in Houston. This is the first time an NBA team has plucked a working coach from another team during the season in like 30 years. The rest of the Wolves coaching staff from Saunders’ reign remains intact, including lead assistant David Vanterpool who ostensibly took the Wolves job as a stepping stone for this very opportunity but then was passed over.

I have no idea how that’s all going to play out this season, but I don’t think it’s going to work out very well.

All-Star Backcourt

Chris Paul was named an All-Star reserve by the coaches and Devin Booker was named to the team by the Commissioners office to replace Anthony Davis. The Suns have two All-Stars and with a game against the worst team in the league, they will look to go to work early. At least, they better. Phoenix can not look to put their guard down or come out slow because this is still an NBA team with a legit star and they will make the Suns pay if they don’t come out prepared and ready to go.

Prediction

This should be a W for The Valley. If it isn’t, something went really wrong.

Suns 116 - Wolves 102