The Utah Jazz (22-15), losers of the last two games, look to right the ship against the Timberwolves (11-25), who are in similar shape, having lost their last three. Let’s look at five key things to watch for in this game.
1. Utah’s Guard Defense
Kyle Lowry, DeMar Derozan, and Isaiah Thomas have scored 33, 23, and 29 on the Jazz’s backcourt. Granted, when you’re starting your third string point guard, results aren’t going to be pretty. The Jazz will have their hands full with Zach LaVine’s scoring/dunking ability, Rubio’s ability to pass the rock, and Kris Dunn’s handles. The good news is, solid defenders Dante Exum and Alec Burks are back from injury, although they will likely be on relatively restricted minutes.
Ed. George Hill is back, so hopefully good things will happen?
2. KAT vs Rudy (Part 2)
In their first meeting of the season, in Minneapolis, Rudy Gobert had 16 points, 17 rebounds (8 offensive), and 3 blocks. Karl Anthony Towns had 19 points, 12 rebounds (3 offensive), a block, and a steal. While neither really could say they dominated the other in these raw statistics, Rudy did have a plus minus of +11, while Towns was a team worst -19 in his 34 minutes of play. Interestingly enough, as Locke reported, Quin started Boris on Towns defensively last game. With Favors back, we’ll see how Quin plans out this game offensively and defensively.
3. Andrew Wiggins
Andrew Wiggins just dropped 41 on the Wizards last night. That’s crazy. However, in the game just before that, against the Philadelphia 76ers, he only had 8 points, only the third time this season he’s failed to score in the double digits. Gordon Hayward and co. did a great job defending Wiggins in the first matchup, holding him to 13 points on 6 of 16 shooting. If he gets hot, starts dunking on everyone, and makes his jumpshots, this will be a hard game.
4. Travel & Fatigue
The Timberwolves got very unlucky with their schedule and have to face the Jazz on a back to back, traveling all the way from a loss at Washington back to their home court. The Jazz are on the 4th game of their road trip, but thankfully have at least one more day of rest compared to the Timberwolves. The Jazz have played 22 games with one day of rest, winning 12 and losing 10. The Timberwolves have played 6 games on the end of a back to back, winning 4 and losing 2. We’ll see whose tired legs give first.
5. The Future of the Northwest Division
Well, for all of the hype about “young and upcoming” teams, the one of the two teams featured tonight is at the very top of the Northwest Division, and the other is at the very bottom. While this may change in the future, we can look forward to epic battles between these teams for a long time. But for now, the Jazz need to dominate this game and get back on a winning streak.