One of the weirdest things about the Utah Jazz this season is that they are 1-2 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are the last place team in the Western Conference by 5 games. What’s even weirder is that Deron Williams had his season-high of 38 points in a loss to the T-Wolves. But those 2 losses came back in December, and the Jazz have clearly become a better team since that time. So how will the Jazz fare with the Wolves this time around?
– The first thing that sticks out to me is that the T-Wolves will be on the back-end of a back-to-back tonight. So how did the Wolves do last night? Oh, you know, they just gave up a measly 152 points to the Phoenix Suns. And no, that is not a typo. The Suns totally destroyed the Wolves, as they rolled to a 152-114 victory at home. If that game is any indication of the intensity that Minnesota will play with, the Jazz are in for a real treat on St. Patty’s Day, as they don’t have too much trouble putting the ball in the hoop. If you think 152 is unattainable by the Jazz tonight, think again. I am not saying they will break that number, but it is within their capability.
– In addition to the T-Wolves being let down from last night’s performance, the Jazz will be uplifted because of the returns of Andrei Kirilenko and Ronnie Price. Having a full lineup will definitely pay off tonight, as they will want to get as much rest for their starters as they can. This should be a very similar game to the Wizards game the other night, where the game will pretty much be decided before the final quarter. With 15 games left in the regular season, any way you can get ready for the playoffs is a plus. (For the record, AK says he’s 90% for tonight’s game, and Price said he’s good to go)
– If you are worrying about a let-down game by the Jazz, there is no need to. First of all, they will be playing at home, where they are 26-8 this season. Secondly, they will be wearing their green uniforms in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. The Jazz are 8-1 in the green unis this season, including 7 straight wins. Finally, the Jazz have lost twice to the 14-win T-Wolves, and they will not overlook them this time around. In fact, Carlos Boozer said, “I guarantee we won’t take them lightly this time.” That’s good enough for me.
– By the way, the Timberwolves have lost 10 straight games.
– In their last match-up, which took place on December 30th, the Jazz held off the pesky Wolves by 4. In that game, all 5 starters scored in double figures for Utah. The Jazz were led by Deron Williams who scored 21 points and had 12 assists, and the Wolves were led by Al Jefferson who also scored 21 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. In that game, Ronnie Brewer had a surprising 20 points. But as all of you know, Brewer is no longer with the team. That could mean big games from Wesley Matthews, CJ Miles, and Kyle Korver (who was injured last time they played) tonight. Matthews, in particular, has been playing at an extremely high level recently, and he has been shooting lights out from downtown. If he remains hot, I would not be shocked if he led the team in scoring in this one.
– Speaking of great 3-point shooting, I just found out that Kyle Korver leads the NBA in 3-point accuracy by a wide margin. Korver is shooting an insane 57% from downtown, which is way ahead of second place Mike Miller who shoots it at 49.5%. Having him available for this meeting with the T-Wolves will be an extra weapon that they did not have access to last time. I just have a feeling that the Wolves will feel his presence very heavily in this one.