Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Phoenix Suns
Tip off: 9 PM EST
Spread: PHO -4.5
Betting Odds taken from Bookmaker
The Timberwolves now sit at 18-18 after dropping last night’s game in embarrassing fashion to the masked man in L.A. Still, to be sitting at .500 at the half way point isn’t so bad for a team that expected to be back at the top of the draft lottery in May.
The reason the Wolves have been so improved begins and ends with Kevin Love. Love has become THE top power forward in the league, and he has a great point guard to get him the ball now in Ricky Rubio. Rubio, a Spanish sensation who played pro ball in Spain since age 15, is among the league leaders in both assists (8.4 per game) and steals (2.3 per game). A Love/Rubio pick and roll combo could be deadly for years to come, and the Wolves have a plethora of talent that hasn’t even begun to scratch its surface — Derrick Williams and Wes Johnson, #2 and #4 overall selections in the draft, still have yet to see much burn.
Nikola Pekovic has been no slouch either. He put up 30 points against the Rockets on February 17th and has scored in double figures in 17 of the last 19 Timberwolves games. He is quickly making Wolves fans forget Darko was ever in uniform.
The Suns sit six games below .500 with almost no chance of making the playoffs. And yet, Steve Nash remains faithful and loyal, donning purple and gold until the Suns tell him he no longer has to.
The league’s leading assist man has yet to request a trade, though several teams are lining up for his services. Most notably, the Orlando Magic are trying to obtain Nash to keep Dwight Howard in town.
Speaking of the Magic, their former backup to Dwight Howard is having an excellent season in his own right. “The Polish Hammer,” Marcin Gortat, is putting up 15.9 points per game, while also grabbing 10.4 boards per night and swatting away 1.6 shots per game. His 56.1% field goal percentage is a direct effect of Nash’s pick and rolls, as Gortat still has yet to develop much of a post game at all.
Markieff Morris has looked promising so far, and I’ve compared him to a young Shawn Marion. I think it’s an apt description, and though the Suns have been reluctant to rebuild, they have Morris and Gortat to center their efforts around, after they finally do part ways with Nash.
Steve Nash vs. Ricky Rubio
I’ve already dubbed Rubio the “Spanish Steve Nash,” so this should be an entertaining matchup to watch. Both Nash and Rubio are about as crafty as they come with the basketball in their hands. The difference for Rubio is that he actually has some decent talent to pass to, while Nash has little outside Gortat who can effectively team up for pick and rolls and the like. Rubio’s defensive skills may cause problems for Nash, but I doubt it. Rubio’s 2.3 steals a game can interrupt any offense, but Nash is good at keeping turnovers under check, especially considering his high usage rate.