Walking Dead Utah Jazz (22-15) will face the Minnesota Timberwolves (11-25) tonight in Minnesota. Both teams are coming off tough losses, but the Jazz may have the advantage with Minnesota playing on the back end of a back to back.
Last time these two met, the Jazz flexed their muscles with George Hill and Gordon Hayward both scoring 24 while Rudy Gobert was a monster going for 16 points and 17 rebounds and holding Karl Anthony Towns to 8 of 19 shooting.
I get a lot of satisfaction every time we beat the Wolves. Yes, Karl Anthony Towns is a great talent, but so many analysts had the Wolves being a surefire playoff team with Thibodeau’s arrival. Before the season even started Towns was picked as an MVP candidate and best center in the league.
Tom Thibodeau is the right coach at the right time to turn Minnesota's collection of young talent into contenders. https://t.co/cuqf9NeTXU— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) April 21, 2016
Rudy proving everyone wrong is my favorite thing.
It looks like George Hill is most likely out again with lingering symptoms from his concussion.
George Hill still hasn't cleared the NBA's concussion protocol. He's out Saturday at Minnesota.— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) January 7, 2017
I’ve heard whispers that he may have passed protocol but we’ll have to see. With how cautious the Jazz are with injuries, my guess is it’ll be a Shelvin Mack attack to start the game.
ED NOTE: Hill will play — this news is newer than the data this preview used to form the previous paragraph. Blame Amar.
Minnesota looks relatively healthy with their starting five intact. Shabazz Muhammad missed last night's game with Illness so that will be something to watch for.
Inactive Tonight: #Twolves will be without Shabazz Muhammad tonight due to an illness. He is inactive tonight along with Pek.— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 6, 2017
Personally, I hope he plays because of a possible reenactment of this...
Projected Starting Lineups:
Shelvin Mack vs Ricky Rubio
Rodney Hood vs Zach Lavine
Gordon Hayward vs Andrew Wiggins
Derrick Favors vs Gorgui Dieng
Rudy Gobert vs Karl Anthony Towns
Once again, without Hill, we are at a deficit at the point guard spot. My hope is that Quin will have a shorter leash on Mack. He started off last game well but had a dreadful ending. Hopefully one of our point guards can play well and get some extended run to help us get the victory.
Key Matchup: Rudy Gobert vs Karl Anthony Towns
Stifle Tower vs KAT is going to be fun for years and the key to most future matchups between Utah and Minnesota. Towns’ ability to stretch the floor will at times pull Rudy away from the hoop on defense. It will be interesting to see how Quin can gameplan to keep Rudy down low. I would expect a lot of Derrick on Towns when he’s on the perimeter and Rudy down low. The more the Jazz are able to get Towns into one on one situations against Gobzilla in the post or down low, the better our chances to win.
Alec Burks and Derrick Favors are back and playing and it’s amazing. More incredible, Hill should be back soon and our injury report will be empty, much like my friday nights in high school, amirite!?
If Alec and Derrick, both players who rely a lot on their physical talent, can get their bounce and fitness back we’ll become incredibly deep with talent. Derrick has shown signs that he’s getting back and you know Alec will bring everything he’s got. Their bodies just need to get there. Once ready, the biggest thing is to somehow keep them healthy.
Prediction: Jazz win a close one
The Wolves are coming off a back to back but are young with a hard nosed coach who won’t allow them to slack. Nevertheless, the Jazz are the better team, even without Hill, and should get the win.