The last time the Utah Jazz and the Minnesota Timberwolves met was the Utah Jazz home opener on December 26th, 2020. That feels like ages ago for both teams as the promising Timberwolves beat the Utah Jazz to spoil the Jazz home opener. The Wolves came into the season looking like they might be able to break through as a western conference playoff team and make some kind of playoff run. But alas, the Wolves have had another painful building season with the hopes that next year they can put it all together. The Jazz on the other hand look a lot different than they did on that last meeting. The team has gelled into a contender and surely have a lot more confidence going into this meeting, let’s hope that confidence is not complacency and they can get the job done tonight.
The Wolves are a tough matchup for the Jazz because of Karl Anthony Towns. The all-NBA and two time all star is tough for Gobert to guard because he can take his game outside and knock down three just about as well as any center in the league. He is also a good passer, even though his assist numbers aren’t off the charts. As great as Gobert is, it is hard to defend someone that is a threat from anywhere on the offensive side of the ball. The Wolves also pose a problem for the Jazz with difficult to defend guards such as DeAngelo Russell and Malik Beasley, although Beasley will miss this game with a hamstring injury. The Wolves come into this game on the tail end of a frustrating season having lost 4 of their last 6 games and a loss in their last game against Sacramento after leading by double digits in the 4th quarter, “[it’s]..very deflating” said Wolves guard Naz Reid after the loss. We’ll see if the Wolves can find another gutsy performance in Salt Lake City tonight.
The Jazz will play another game without their star Donovan Mitchell who is still out with an ankle sprain injury. The team is playing well despite being without Mitchell after only having three games this week and being able to rest a little bit. Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic is starting to look a little bit more like he did last season, averaging 19 points over the last four games and being more aggressive than he has all season. A good game from Bogdanovic along with the deep Jazz bench may just prove to be too much for the Timberwolves to handle tonight.
No matter how far apart these teams may be in the standing, when they play over the last couple of seasons it always seems to be a dog fight. The Wolves will no doubt be hungry to win after their last game and they always seem to take pleasure in upsetting the Jazz. It should be a fun prequel to when these two teams meet again on Monday.
What To Watch For:
Can the Jazz defense hold up against the offensive threat of the Wolves. In particular, can Rudy Gobert and the rest of the starting unit get off to a good start defensively. In the last meeting the Wolves set the tone by the end of the first quarter by scoring 31 points and pretty much doing whatever they wanted to offensively. The Jazz also couldn’t get a stop in the 4th quarter when they needed to. I will be watching to see if the Jazz set the tone early and take control of the game so that they can avoid having a shooting match in the 4th quarter.
When: 7pm MDT
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City
TV: ATRM(AT&T/Root Sports Rocky Mountain)
Radio: 97.5 FM/1280 AM The Zone