Tonight the Utah Jazz slough through the snow for their fourth game on this East-ish road trip. Game one? They beat the Brooklyn Nets in a game much closer than it should have been. Game two? Lost to the Boston Celtics in a game that they could have won. Game three? Heartbreaker down the stretch of the fourth quarter where the Toronto Raptors high-octane offense made all the difference. Can Utah avoid dropping three games in a row on this trip? If they are going to do that they'll have to face off against the pesky Minnesota Timberwolves, a team that has been surprisingly good on the second night of back-to-backs. (Missing piece of information: They are on the second night of a back-to-back tonight.)
Minny is better than the record they have, currently situated at last in the Western Conference. And they have lots of talent and youth. So Utah shouldn't overlook them. Minny, on the other hand, will be facing a Utah team that has made Minny's home court look like SLC over the decades of their head-to-head action. (Jazz are up 75-37 overall, and 33-23 on the road with a 2 game win streak going in Minny.)
The Wolves have lost three in a row and, well, there shouldn't be a lot of crowing about that as the Jazz have lost two in a row. Minny is a very competent offensive team, 11th in ORTG (108.9). So good in fact that they have helped continue Utah's slide out of the Top 10, currently 12th in ORTG (108.8). Of course, the Jazz still hang their hat on being great on defense (104.8 DRTG, 4th), while the Wolves have some work to do in that department still (110.8 DRTG, 26th). Utah's pace is the slowest in the league, and Tom Thibodeau's teams aren't speedsters either, being 23rd.
The Wolves are relentless on the offensive glass and force a lot of turn overs on defense. They are a pack, and fight like one. They also get to the line quite a bit. They just really don't do a good job of challenge shots (28th in opponent's eFG%). The Jazz are usually an okay defensive rebounding club, but at 10th have shown some cracks over the last few games there. Utah also has been turning the ball over a lot lately, so that could be a disadvantage that goes right into the hands of the Wolves, one of their best defensive attacks is to attack the ball. Of course, the Jazz have played without Hill lately. Having him back should mitigate some of the sloppiness.
Small market brothers to battle tonight!
- PG: George Hill vs. Rucky Rubio
- SG: Rodney Hood vs. Zach LaVine
- SF: Gordon Hayward vs. Andrew Wiggins
- PF: Derrick Favors vs. Gorgui Dieng
- C: Rudy Gobert vs. Karl-Anthony Towns
Unless, of course, if Shelvin Mack starts because obviously why wouldn't you ever start Shelvin Mack?
Injuries / Absences:
- SF: Shabazz Muhammad (MIN, Questionable)
- PF: Joel Bolomboy (UTA, NBADL)
- C: Nikola Pekovic (MIN, OUT)
Yes, that's right: 14 of 15 players are healthy for Quin Snyder tonight, he's going to have to assign someone to be inactive for tonight. My guess is that it'll be Raul Neto.
GO JAZZ GO!
Who's going to win tonight?
This poll is closed
UTA by 11+ points
UTA by 6-10
UTA by 1-5
MIN by 1-5
MIN by 6-10
MIN by 11+