We’ve no short of thrills and emotional rollercoasters here in Utah.
After the late win against the Golden State Warriors just two nights ago featuring a steal and slam in the final seconds that charged the fanbase, the Jazz will play host to hero turned friendly foe in Rudy Gobert.
The Timberwolves acquisition of Gobert ushered in a new era for the team with new faces throughout the roster and coaching staff. The two teams squared off earlier this year in which Gobert commented about the unusual circumstances:
“I mean it’s gonna be it’s definitely gonna be weird. Those jerseys are a little different but still gonna be weird to play against someone with Utah on them. I mean, see all the coaches on the sideline even though Quin is not there anymore.”
Rudy Gobert is back home. Never sold his house. (I’ve checked a few times since the trade lol). That dude really does love it here. pic.twitter.com/NLJL6KJtr0— Dustin Taylor ⌚️ (@DustinT_NBA) December 9, 2022
This time around will be a lot different. Rudy is already making the rounds, including a visit to his SLC home which he owns to this day. Tonight’s game is sure to be packed with rabid Rudy fans, as well as familiar faces from ownership and front office in attendance.
The tribute video will hopefully do incredible justice to a true hero and one of the greats in Utah Jazz history. Rudy himself said, “It’s all love for me. You know, I want to see these guys succeed and, and I’m sure they want to see me succeed, too.”
Rudy will always occupy a special place in Jazz nation and an opportunity to reminisce and joyfully compete will be incredible. Be sure to cheer for Gobert and express gratitude for the 9 seasons that were objectively one of the most fun eras in franchise history.
Let’s break down the matchup!
The 12-12 Minnesota Timberwolves have by most measures began the season in disappointing fashion. Rocky performances against the league’s best and only amplified the microscope on the Towns-Gobert frontcourt pairing.
A hallmark of Gobert’s career has been to provide an incredibly high floor for his teams. That theory is put to the test when Karl-Anthony Towns strained his calf and was labeled as out for 6-8 weeks.
Since Towns injury the Wolves are 2-1 with an even differential. They’ve really leaned into their defense, allowing 108.2 points per 100 possessions (a mark that would be among the top 3 teams for the season). With the increased activity of Anthony Edwards, they are generating a lot of steals.
The Wolves are particularly susceptible offensively. They rank 17th offensively on the season with even worse marks since Towns left. They are turnover prone and not aggressive on that end.
The Utah Jazz have experienced their share of up and downs over the past handful of weeks. They’ve won 5 games since their East coast road trip (14 game span) and 3 games since Conley’s injury (9 game span).
Certainly teams are more prepared for them and their weaknesses are being exploited more frequently. Preserve an even advantage in possessions has proved impossible and late game situations have been tricky (including the GSW game).
The Jazz have no issue scoring efficiently thanks to the #3 ranked offense per Cleaning the Glass. The issue is too many turnovers and allowing too many offensive rebounds to the opponent.
Jazz will look to square some of those issues away as they wrap up the final of 6 straight at home with 12 full nights in their own beds. This was a stretch to get right and Jazz hope to end it with a winning record (3-2 thus far).
Per NBA.com at 8:30 AM MST, the Minnesota Timberwolves will be without the services of two primary rotation members:
- Starting big Karl-Anthony Towns who’s out with a right calf strain
- Backup wing Taurean Prince who’s out with right shoulder injury
A big component of this game is the missing services of Towns. He’s the best offensive player and most prolific shooter. However, his absence simplifies the approach on offense and removes a negative defensive player.
In possessions where Towns was on the bench prior to the injury, Minnesota was a +0.7 differential per 100 possessions. Since his injury the team is +2.2. Given small samples, this isn’t a big enough difference to conclude the Wolves are fine without Towns but they also aren’t likely better.
The Utah Jazz have just one non-G League assignment players labeled as out: backup guard Collin Sexton who, after imaging revealed a minor hamstring strain, will be sidelined at minimum a week.
The following are listed as questionable for tonight’s game:
- Starting guard Mike Conley (leg strain); has missed last 9 contests
- Starting wing Lauri Markkanen (illness); missed his first game vs GSW
- Third-string wing Simone Fontecchio (ankle); no time missed due to this injury
When: 7:00 PM MT
Where: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
Radio: 97.5/1280 The Zone