After winning their home opener, the Utah Jazz go on the road in hopes of spoiling the Minnesota Timberwolves’ opener. This game is more than just a home opener for Minnesota. The Timberwolves will be having their first regular season game in their updated arena and a certain Spaniard will be returning to face the team who drafted him.
This is Ricky Rubio’s homecoming and he will be looking to defeat the team that thought Jeff Teague would be a better fit at point guard than him. Defeating the Timberpups won’t be as easy as it has in the past; the Timberpups have grown into adult wolves with Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns being a year older and the addition of Jimmy Butler.
Utah will have its hands full but Utah’s re-tooled defense looked scary in the second half of their game against Denver where they went on a 25-4 run and brought Denver’s really good offense to a screeching hault. Wiggins, Butler, and Anthony-Towns will not get a break when Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, and Rodney Hood go to the bench because in their place Ekpe Udoh, Thabo Sefolosha, and Donovan Mitchell come onto the court.
Just like in their matchup against Denver, this is an offensive vs defensive matchup. Can Utah put the clamps down on Minnesota? We’ll see.
When: Friday, October 20th at 6:00pm MT
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
Radio: 1280 or 97.5 The Zone.
Television: AT&T SportsNet. | RM
Dante Exum - OUT (shoulder)
Raul Neto - QUESTIONABLE (hamstring)
Justin Patton - OUT (foot)
What to Watch For
Ricky Rubio vs Jeff Teague
This is going to be fun. Ricky Rubio is going to be going at Jeff Teague. The key for Rubio is to do what he does best and not make this about taking over the game, but dominating through his playmaking. Jeff Teague had a humble first game against San Antonio with 11 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal.
Meanwhile, Ricky Rubio put on a show with with his Jason Kidd-esque line of 9 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. Including this beauty of a sequence.
This sequence from Rubio was incredible last night pic.twitter.com/WRC314WHiI— James Hansen (@hansenjames) October 20, 2017
Jeff Teague may be the better shooter, but how will he look after being hounded by Ricky Rubio’s pestering defense?
Containing the Minny 3
The Utah Jazz’s roster is built for throwing multiple league best defenders at the West’s Offensive Juggernauts and hoping they get frustrated and shut down. We saw that happen in the 2nd half against Denver when a line up of Donovan Mitchell, Alec Burks, Thabo Sefolosha, and Joe Johnson shut down Denver.
After the preseason, we talked about how the Jazz’s bench was like a defensive skeleton key. The Jazz can matchup against any offense depending on personnel. The key against Minnesota will be finding the five player combination who can shut down Minnesota.
Rodney Hood vs Gastric Distress
This has been a common thread with Rodney Hood as he battles anxiety throughout his career. As someone with anxiety, I’m not going to say that he just has to “man up” and get on the court. Unless you’ve had it, it’s rough. Also, when you gotta poop, you gotta poop. He played through and had an okay opening. Against Minnesota he’s going to have to have a big game. While Utah’s defense can shut down Minnesota, Utah will need all the points it can get.
Before the season, many pegged the 4th year forward as being the Jazz’s leading scorer. As of right now that honor goes to Rudy Gobert. If you’re looking at per minute production, Alec Burks is king. Rodney Hood will have the looks, the spacing, and the touches to score big. Can he take the first step toward realizing that goal in Minnesota?
Most likely Jazz-Killer: Andrew Wiggins
The Utah Jazz will not be able to key in on Andrew Wiggins as much as they have been able to in the past because of Jimmy Butler. If you need to be reminded as to why Andrew Wiggins could take down Utah tonight, please see Exhibit A of Andrew Wiggins making the Stifle Tower look like the Leaning Tower.
Andrew Wiggins against the San Antonio Spurs had 26 points. I’d be worried about how he performs at home.