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Minnesota Timberwolves at Utah Jazz Game Preview

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Game 76: Timberwolves (25-50) @ Jazz (37-38)
Location: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
Time: 7:00 p.m. (MT)
TV: ROOT Sports • Radio: 1280 AM // 97.5 FM

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Utah Jazz look to get back on track as they host the Minnesota Timberwolves. Utah has been pretty "hot" (feel free to read that in the voice of Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite) of late. They have won 8 of their last 11 games; and if there is a consolation prize, they did take the defending champs (the Golden State Warriors) to overtime in that last game, a loss. As good as Utah has been, it's fair to say that Minnesota has also been much better than earlier this season. Utah has gone from a team trying to go .500 into one that's winning almost .800, the Wolves went through horrible stretches but are now a .500 team over the last 10. They have beaten the Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings, Washington Wizards, and Phoenix Suns. You can't possibly take them lightly -- unless you wish to become an April Fool.

These two teams played a few games ago, with the Jazz winning it. Utah is 2-1 this season against Minnesota, and went 3-1 last season. They may be looking to equal that mark tonight if they can stay focused. A loss to the Wolves would really suck as the Jazz don't have games to waste anymore in their #playoffpush. It would also be historically a slap in the face as the Jazz are 41-14 against the Wolves all-time when playing in Utah. (And they are 74-37 all-time at home and on the road.)

The Jazz usually win on April Fool's day, but if a lone wolf can have a big scoring night it could be a big problem for the Jazz. Already in their early careers Karl-Anthony Towns (32, 25 points), Zach LaVine (27 points), and Shabazz Muhammad (30 points) have all made their marks known -- but most of those were scratches and not deadly jugular bites. One guy who hasn't scared us so far has been Andrew Wiggins. His high score is only 22 points. Tonight, after some rest, he may be ready to lead his pack.

It's going to be hard to do as the Jazz have been holding teams to low scores during their most recent stretch of play. And it's likely that they will focus on letting the other guys score, if they can keep Towns and Wiggins in check. Towns will be harder to deal with because he has already displayed an ability to score against Utah. Furthermore, the Jazz are likely to be without Derrick Favors tonight. Favors had to leave the last game before halftime with a knee injury. He is questionable right now and should progress to be a game-time decision.

Ideally you'd be able to beat the Wolves without Favors, but they are also going to be without Dante Exum and Alec Burks. Tibor Pleiss is still playing (and playing surprisingly well) with the Idaho Stampede. No Favors is less bad as Kevin Garnett and Nikola Pekovic are both still sidelined "indefinitely".

2015 2016 GM 76 MIN at UTA - Player Stats

Ricky Rubio had a good shooting game last time against the Jazz, hopefully Shelvin Mack will be giving him the business tonight. But really, Rodney Hood and Gordon Hayward should still be able to worry the Wolves more than the Jazz are worried by Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins. If that's the case then the Jazz, the team with limited wing depth, will be able to overcome the venerable Tayshaun Prince and Tyrone Corbin 's favorite player from the 2013 Draft, Shabazz Muhammad.

I honestly do expect Trey Lyles to have a big game, I don't see how Utah wins tonight without a big effort from him if Favors is out tonight. I am assuming that Favors will play though. That's just a feeling and not based upon any new information.