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Utah Jazz vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Game Preview: Youth against slightly more Youth

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Game #46: Timberwolves (14-33) @ Jazz (20-25)
Location: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
Time: 7:00 p.m. (MT)
TV: ROOT Sports • Radio: 1280 AM / 97.5 FM

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight we have the Utah Jazz playing game 3 of their seson long 6 game home stand tonight. Who they got? None other than the pesky Minnesota Timberwolves. (Thank you based Hot Rod.) The T-Wolves are last in the division and had to deal with some unfortunate injuries to their starting point guard this year. We know what that's like, right? Of course, at this stage Ricky Rubio is a better player than Dante Exum. I get that. Minny only has 14 wins, and half of those have been on the road. It's going to be tough to get one tonight against a rejuvenated Jazz team. The Minnesota, as a franchise, have only 14 total wins in Utah. Ever. Yeah, historically the tide favors the Jazz tonight and their dominating 40-14 record in the #801. Of course, just because the Jazz should win doesn't just mean that the Wolves will roll over.

After all, we just expect certain things from a Sam Mitchell / Sidney Lowe coached team. Right?

The Wolves love to play at a much faster pace of play than the Jazz, but they just aren't that good. Period. They are 22nd in ORTG, and even with a faster pace of play are only 21st in PPG. They are 23rd in DRTG, and are somehow 22nd in Opponents PPG. They are for the most part losing games 99.7 ppg for, to 103.6 ppg against. That's a negative net rating. However, the Wolves fans are looking to the future here. It's not about this season. Not at all when Andre Wiggins is only 20, Karl-Anthony Towns is only 20, Zach LaVine is only 20, Adreian Payne is only 24, and Shabazz Muhammad is reported to be 23. There's young here on this squad, not including Rubio himself who is only 25.

Unfortunately, the Wolves are a smaller marker team in a cold weather climate -- and it's hard to keep your good players. They've lost Al Jefferson and Kevin Love in recent "must make" trades. I don't know how well they will retain their young core, but it's another common fear our fanbase has as well.

Minny does a few things well. No team gets to the line better per FGA, and for the league they get to the line the second most per game. Also they make their free throws, 79.6 FT%, which is ALSO 2nd best in the league. But they also do a few things poorly. The worse thing is their three point attack. No team takes fewer threes, and only one team shoots worse than them. The 30th NBA Rank and 29th NBA Rank for the deep attack means they HAVE to go inside and get to the line to make up the difference.

Defensively the best thing they do is cause turn overs, which makes sense when you realize that this is a team that still somehow features Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince.

But it's about the young guys in this game. It's going to be a fun time for Trey Burke going up against Bazz and Gorgui Dieng -- the two guys Utah traded away to get him. Also Wiggins is going to be a star in this league, it will be silly when he makes an All-Star game before Gordon Hayward. But for at least another season, he's going to have to deal with Gordon Hayward being bigger and stronger than him. Karl-Anthony Towns may also be a future All-Star, but I don't know how he's going to deal with a tag-team of Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert.

It's nice to finally have a game of mostly healthy teams where there's no real x-factor besides the players -- and not who isn't playing. But for tonight we'll once against have no Dante Exum and Alec Burks. They will be without Kevin Martin and Kevin Garnett.

It's a home game. It's Friday night. And it's against a team worse than us. SO WATCH THIS GAME!