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Surging Suns visit Timberwolves Wednesday
By: Freddy Wander - StatFox
Published: 1/8/2014  at  7:38:00 AM
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Tip-off: Wednesday, 9:35 p.m. ET
Line: Minnesota -8, Total: 214

The Suns look to continue their surprising season when they travel to Minnesota to take on the high-octane Timberwolves Wednesday night.

After going 25-57 (.305) last season and finishing in last place in the Western Conference, Phoenix has surprised the basketball world with its start to this season. The Suns are 11-4 (SU and ATS) in their past 15 games to move up to seventh place in the Western Conference. Although they began a five-game road trip Tuesday night with a 92-87 loss in Chicago, they are still 8-8 SU with an impressive 12-4 ATS on the road this season. Minnesota has been playing below expectations this season, but always puts forward a good show with its fireworks on offense. The Wolves are coming off a Monday win in Philadelphia where they scored 126 points, which is not too surprising, as the 76ers are the worst defensive team in the NBA. The Timberwolves are a solid 10-6 SU (8-8 ATS) at home on the year and have scored 108.7 PPG on their home court. After Phoenix had pulled off a nine-game SU winning streak in this series, Minnesota is 4-2 (SU and ATS) in this matchup over the past six meetings, including a 105-93 home win when they last met on April 13. The Suns have been good to bettors this season, leading the NBA with a 23-9 ATS mark (72%). However, Wolves head coach Rick Adelman is 33-17 ATS (66%) in home games after outrebounding an opponent by 15+ boards in all games he has coached since 1996. PG Eric Bledsoe (knee) will miss this game for the Suns, while Timberwolves SFs Chase Budinger (knee) and Luc Mbah a Moute (ankle) are both questionable.

Can the Suns improve their strong road record on Wednesday night? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The five experts are sizzling on NBA Best Bets since the start of December, going 62% ATS (79-49-1) including 65% ATS (53-28-1) since Dec. 16. StatFox Zach has a huge 72% ATS mark (18-7-1) since Dec. 1 and is currently 58% ATS (29-21-1) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave has an excellent 70% ATS (19-8) Best Bets record since Dec. 1 and is 57% ATS (29-22) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Scott is 69% ATS (11-5) in Best Bets since Dec. 16, while StatFox Gary is also 69% ATS (11-5) in this same timeframe. Since Dec. 12, StatFox Brian is 61% ATS (11-7).

The Suns have continued to keep up in the Western Conference with a solid offensive output (103.2 PPG, 9th in NBA) but were stymied by the Bulls' defense on Tuesday night as they scored only 87 points while shooting 40.2% from the field. Their defense has not been top-notch (100.2 PPG allowed, 14th in league), but has allowed 100 or fewer points in the past four contests. SG Goran Dragic (18.9 PPG, 5.8 APG) has taken over as this teamís leader and is having a career season, while scoring more than four points per game than any other season. He averaged a double-double (12.3 PPG, 10.8 APG) in four games against the Timberwolves last season, and has 9.1 PPG (41% FG) with 6.9 APG in 15 career games (5 starts) against them. PF Markieff Morris (12.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG) has been huge off the bench while scoring in double-digits in three of his past four games. He has played seven games (2 starts) against the Wolves in his career, scoring 10.9 PPG on 49.3% FG in that time. C Miles Plumlee (9.9 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.8 BPG) has really taken off for the Suns and has started every game this year, but has yet to face Minnesota.

The Timberwolves rank second in the NBA in scoring, putting up 107.4 PPG on the year and tallying 117+ points in each of their past five victories. They need to outscore their opponents though, as they are allowing 102.6 PPG (25th in league). PF Kevin Love (26.4 PPG, 13.3 RPG) should be in MVP talks at the end of the season and has scored 20+ points in his past 14 games, averaging a whopping 30.1 PPG (51% FG, 44% threes) and 12.8 RPG during this surge. He scored 23 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in his one game against Phoenix last year while averaging 17.1 PPG (38% FG) and 11.8 RPG over 10 career games (6 starts) in this series. SG Kevin Martin (19.7 PPG, 40% threes, 1.2 SPG) is having his best offensive season since 2010-11 and is shooting at a great 53% FG clip in three January games. But Martin has averaged only 13.2 PPG (39% FG) -- his lowest average against any team -- in 25 career games (18 starts) against the Suns. C Nikola Pekovic (18.0 PPG, 9.3 RPG) fits perfectly into the Wolves' system as an offense-first big man who has 23.3 PPG (55% FG) and 11.0 RPG in the past nine games, netting at least 30 points in three of these contests. He has 14.1 PPG (62% FG) while pulling down only 5.4 RPG in nine career games (7 starts) versus Phoenix, while performing great last season in three meetings (19.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG). PG Ricky Rubio (8.9 PPG, 8.3 APG) leads the NBA with 2.8 SPG, but needs to improve his shooting (35% FG) for Minnesota to make a playoff push.

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