So this is the end, beautiful friend. This is the end, my only friend, the end.
The Utah Jazz are visiting the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight for the last game of the season. Somehow there are things still on the line. For the Wolves, and their head coach Rick Adelman, it is a chance to finish the season 41-41. A winning record brings some level of nobility to another throw away season from a club paying a lot of money to characters like Love and Pekovic. For the Jazz, and their youth, this is their last chance to prove that they have a future next year, and a future together. Three of the five players are up for paydays: Hayward a RFA, and Kanter and Burks having their rookie deal extensions coming up this off-season. They have something to lose as well -- not just pride, but financial gains. And who can forget Tyrone Corbin and Sidney Lowe, two former Wolves players, who may be looking to leave this season on a positive note; regardless.
If the Wolves win it doesn't change their draft spot. If the Jazz do it could negatively influence theirs -- as the Boston Celtics (1.0 games behind right now) are certain to lose tonight to a motivated Washington Wizards team that's trying to stave off the Charlotte Bobcats in the bottom of the East playoff standings. It's crazy how connected everything gets at the end of the season, but here we are.
At the end.
It benefits the Jazz to lose, and let Adelman have his honor. I don't know how many more seasons the old man is going to keep going through this. By the same token, Adelman could tip his at to Ty, and let him salvage the last game of this season.
I don't know what's going to happen tonight. But I do know that it will hurt if the lotto bound Wolves SWEEP the season series. The Jazz have lost to the Wolves three times already: 98-72, 112-97, and 121-104. Blah. You kinda don't want to lose again, but it may be what's going to happen tonight. The 40 win Timberwolves are 24-16 at home, and the 24 win Jazz are 8-32 on the road. While the Jazz hold a commanding 68-35 lead in the franchise head to head record, Utah is only 29-22 in Minny.
And let's not forget that this is a Minny team that's more talented than Utah is. Yes, Nikola Pekovic, Chase Budinger, Ronny Turiaf, and Shabazz Muhammad may all miss tonight's game. But that's not really what we need to worry about. We need to worry about All-Star Kevin Love, and guys like Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea, Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer (51), and the inspiring play of rookie Gorgui Dieng. When healthy the Wolves are a playoff threat. When healthy, we're still 8 NBA players + 7 other guys.
Utah has had an up and down season, where the team could beat the best in the league (Miami, Oklahoma City), then lose to the worst (Milwaukee) It's going to be interesting to see which Jazz team shows up tonight. It may not actually matter though. The Wolves play the 4th fastest pace, and we may get "suckered" into playing their game. They score a lot (#4 in PPG, #9 in ORTG), but are sneaky good on defense, as #12 in DRTG.
If both teams are playing for pride, it'll be a tough game. But every game has been tough for the Jazz this season. This one could be another loss. Hopefully it is.
Whatever it is, it will be the end.