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Utah Jazz at Minnesota Timberwolves Game Preview

Game 73: Jazz (35-37) @ Timberwolves (24-48)
Location: TARGET Center • Minneapolis, MN
Time: 6:00 p.m. (MT)
TV: ROOT Sports • Radio: 1280 AM // 97.5 FM

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

This is the end of the road for the Utah Jazz, who are 2-2 so far on their Eastern sojourn. They beat the Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets in the middle two games, but started off with a loss to the Chicago Bulls and got pantsed by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. After a night off, and now playing their third game in four nights, they will face the pesky Minnesota Timberwolves. The Jazz could come out a little sluggish because of cumulative fatigue, but I think that their main guys didn't play enough in the last game to really justify that excuse. Also, c'mon, they had a night off. The Wolves, on the other hand, played last night -- on the road -- and went to double overtime. They beat the Washington Wizards and everyone of their five starters played at least 40 minutes. In fact, no single bench player played more than 15 minutes -- so we know they kind of Corb'd themselves.

I hope their acute fatigue eliminates whatever home advantage they have. For what it is worth, Minny is 12-23 in the Target center and Utah is 13-24 outside of the Aunt Viv. Both team's aren't great where they are. Furthermore, the Jazz actually have the all-time winning advantage when it's #UTAatMIN -- 32-23 right now. The Jazz also went 3-1 against the Wolves last season, but are 1-1 this year (thanks injuries). With two games left to play these teams will see a lot of each other over the next 10 games. For Utah, well, they need to win both as they are in the playoff hunt.

Minnesota is a young team with an exciting lotto based core that wouldn't mind playing spoiler. Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, and #21 pick Gorgui Dieng are finding their roles in this league and growing at a frightening pace. KAT is breaking rookie records as it is and almost defeated the Jazz by himself. He's a match-up problem for both Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. And an obvious match-up problem for Trevor Booker and Trey Lyles too. I don't go into many games fearing the opposing bigman. The Wolves do have a really big dog in this fight. They also have great wing athletes in Wiggins, LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, and the ageless Tayshaun Prince.

On paper the Jazz should win. On the court they'll have to earn that victory.

For the Jazz we're seeing just how far they can go with Derrick and Gordon Hayward doing their best. Shelvin Mack has been a huge surprise and is someone Rubio et al will have to game plan for. I do think that it's been a while since Rodney Hood has really gone off. I think LaVine is too athletic for him though, and according to our bros over at Canis Hoopus he has been on fire of late in shooting. If Rodney can mitigate Zach then the Jazz should be okay-ish.

At the end of the day, with the Jazz still playing without Dante Exum and Alec Burks the fear comes from depth. Joe Ingles and Chris Johnson do not scare anyone except for their own fans when they are asked to play more than 20 minutes. It's gotten so bad that Trey Burke is probably our best back-up shooting guard this season. And he used to be our starting point guard two seasons ago. Such is the NBA grind. For what it is worth, the Wolves will be without Kevin Garnett, Nikola Pekovic, and Nemanja Bjelica. EDIT: Bjelica is back. I messed up. So their inside depth is a question mark, which means they may just go small to our demise.

Overall, Minny is a bad defensive team but they live at the line on offense. They have won two games in a row and are looking to tie their season high with three. For Utah every game matters.