By: Dan Slaubaugh
Happy Monday, Wolves fans.
Tonight, the Utah Jazz (9-8) are in town for a Northwest division showdown. I'm personally a big fan of the Jazz, which is reason why I predicted them to finish 5th in the Western Conference this season. They have a terrific frontcourt with Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, and Gordon Hayward. There's a clear upgrade in terms of talent and depth with the additions of George Hill, Joe Johnson, and Boris Diaw. The key for them will be to stay healthy, which is something they've failed to do the past few years.
Regarding Minnesota, they are returning home from a three-game roadtrip in which they went 1-2 (L vs. NOP, W vs. PHO, L vs. GSW). They finished the trip strong with a win in Phoenix and a strong performance in Golden State despite a loss, but they still haven't quite figured out the defensive end in their first season with head coach Tom Thibodeau.
"The young talent is averaging 103.1 points and produes highlight moments offensively. But Thibodeau was brought aboard to develop the team's highly-touted core and get them to play soundly on the defensive end." - CBS Sports
The Wolves are currently giving up 103.1 points per game, good for 15th in the league. Hence, things are improving. They'll try to continue that tonight against Utah.
What: Wolves - Jazz
Where: Target Center - Minneapolis, Minnesota.
When: 7:00pm CT
Where to watch: Fox Sports North
Where to listen: 830 WCCO
What to watch for:
Jazz defense: Utah boasts the league's top defense, giving up just 92.9 points per game. Their opponents are shooting league-worst 42.3% from the field. They are coming off of their second straight win in which they held Atlanta (10-7) to 31.3% shooting. And finally, they have held eight opponents to fewer than 90 points this season. Minnesota will have to work extra hard for their buckets tonight.
MIN point guard play: Ricky Rubio has been out of sorts since returning from injury (missed five games). Kris Dunn has been the backup, but hasn't provided anything on the offensive end. Tyus Jones, who's garnered the least amount of minutes of the three, has been the most consistent point guard on the roster. After leading the team to a fourth-quarter comeback win over Phoenix on Friday and playing the entire fourth-quarter against Golden State, look for Jones to get backup minutes behind Rubio tonight. It makes no sense for Thibodeau to play Dunn behind Rubio if he's going to opt with Tyus the entire fourth-quarter.
The Wolves, 5-11, currently sit last in the Northwest division and 13th in the Western Conference. Utah, 9-8, currently sit 2nd in the Northwest division and 7th in the Western Conference.
In Minnesota's five wins, Andrew Wiggins is averaging 30.6 points on 58 percent shooting, including 50 percent from three point range. In Minnesota's losses, Wiggins is averaging 20.3 points on 36.6 percent shooting.
The Wolves went 1-3 against Utah last season.
I had this weird feeling after breakfast this morning that the Wolves were going to pull off an upset tonight. I can't really decipher whether that weird feeling was pure optimism and belief that they'll actually win or if it was just because I ate too many Froot Loops. Nonetheless, I had the feeling, and I'm sticking with it.
Wolves win 97-92. LaVine pours in 26 points. Bazz contributes with 10 points. Wiggins pulls off another filthy dunk.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the game. Go Wolves.