The Utah Jazz host the Minnesota Timberwolves for the last time this season, the day before the big trade deadline at 3PM tomorrow. Across the three games so far, the Jazz are currently 2-1, with two close wins (one in overtime) and one close loss. Both teams are coming off of tough losses, with the Jazz losing a game to the in-between-trades Mavericks (no Luka, Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, or Kyrie) and the Wolves getting pummeled by 34 points behind a first-half triple double from Nikola Jokic and 30 points from Michael Porter Jr.
As of the writing of this article, no trades have occurred involving the Jazz or Wolves, and yet just 5.5 games separate the 13th seed Lakers and the 3rd seeded Kings – there’s plenty of space for teams who want to get better to do so via trade. The currently 10th seeded Jazz are just a game behind the 9th seeded Wolves and 1.5 games ahead of those Lakers. Jazz players did admit that the trade talk affected their game against Dallas, and tonight might be no different. And with Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler’s spots during All-Star Weekend secured, the Jazz could do far worse than to focus on maximizing their draft positioning.
The Wolves aren’t necessarily going to make that easy, though. They’re coming off of a road back-to-back in Denver where they generally looked uninspired, with key pieces like Rudy Gobert (0 points, 5 rebounds) and Jordan McLaughlin (0 points, 0 assists) nursing injuries, limiting their effectiveness, and starters Kyle Anderson and KAT continuing to be sidelined due to injury. The only real bright spot across extended garbage time was two-way player Luka Garza putting up 19 points and 9 rebounds, mostly in garbage time.
With Jarred Vanderbilt out nursing “back spasms”, the Jazz might look very different by the time tip-off starts. While this game probably won’t be very memorable in the grand scheme of things, the next 48 hours might shape the next half-decade of Utah Jazz basketball. Keep your eyes peeled and mind open.
When: 7:00 PM MST
Where: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City
TV: ATTSN-RM (AT&T Sports Net-Rocky Mountain), BSNX (Bally Sports North)
Radio: KZNS/KSL/KTUB, WCCO
Projected Starting Lineups
Utah: G: Mike Conley G: Jordan Clarkson F: Lauri Markkanen F: Kelly Olynyk C: Walker Kessler
Minnesota: G: D’Angelo Russell G: Anthony Edwards F: Jaden McDaniels F: Naz Reid C: Rudy Gobert
- Jarred Vanderbilt - Back (Questionable)
- Simone Fontecchio - Foot (Questionable)
- Micah Potter - Elbow (out until at least mid-March)
- Kyle Anderson - Back (Game Time Decision)
- Karl-Anthony Towns - Calf (out indefinitely)
- Austin Rivers - Suspension (3rd game of 3)