A pair of Northwest Division teams do battle in the Beehive State. The Minnesota Timberwolves are on the road again as they visit the Utah Jazz Monday night. Minnesota was in Phoenix Saturday night as they took on the Suns, losing their second straight with a 118-110 loss. Utah was at home Saturday night as they hosted the Nets, stopping a four game losing skid with a 114-106 win. The Jazz holds a 78-39 advantage in the all-time regular season series but Minnesota claimed a 100-97 home win in the first matchup this season on October 20.
Minnesota Timberwolves Continue Road Trip
Minnesota fell to 0-2 on this three game road trip that comes to a close here. The Timberwolves were knocked off by the Suns as their defense was leaky once again. Minnesota led by nine after the opening quarter and held a three point edge heading into the fourth before getting outscored 33-22. The Timberwolves shot just 40.6 percent from the floor, including a 4 of 20 showing from three point range, while allowing Phoenix to shoot 53.5 percent overall. Andrew Wiggins led the Timberwolves with 27 points in the loss.
The Timberwolves come into this game 9th in scoring with 108.8 points a game. Minnesota is tied for 17th in rebounding with 43 boards a night and tied for 14th in assists by dishing out 22.1 dimes per contest. The Timberwolves are 27th in scoring defense as they allow 111.8 points per game. Andrew Wiggins is second on Minnesota with 20.3 points plus 4.4 boards a game. Karl-Anthony Towns averages 20.9 points plus 11.1 rebounds, Jamal Crawford adds 10.6 points a night, Jimmy Butler kicks in 15.7 points and 5.2 rebounds while Jeff Teague adds 13 points plus 7.8 assists a contest. Minnesota has to get production from Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad, Taj Gibson, Tyus Jones and Nemanja Bjelica as their bench group. The Timberwolves are 12th in the league in field goal percentage as the team shoots 46.2 percent from the floor. Minnesota is 28th in the league in threes with 8.1 per game and is tied for 17th in the league in three point shooting as they’ve hit 35.4 percent of their attempts from downtown.
Utah Jazz Seeking Home Victory
Utah managed to snap their slide as they hung on to take down the Nets at home. The Jazz try to get back to the .500 mark with a victory here at home. Utah was tied after the opening quarter but took command by outscoring Brooklyn 36-20 in the second. The Jazz then held off the Nets’ attempts to rally late to get the win. Utah shot 48.2 percent from the floor and knocked down 11 of 29 three point attempts in the contest. The Jazz were led by Donovan Mitchell’s 26 points as they were without shot blocking center Rudy Gobert, who missed the game with a knee contusion.
The Jazz enter this contest 28th in the league in scoring offense with 98.3 points per game. Utah is in the lower half of the pack, ranking tied for 26th in the league in rebounding with 41.1 boards per game. The Jazz is 27th in the league in assists with 19.3 per contest. Utah currently is tied for 4th in the league in scoring defense as they allow 99.6 points per game. Ricky Rubio is second on the Jazz with 14.5 points plus 5.8 assists and 2.08 steals per game on the year. Joe Ingles (10.7 points) and Rudy Gobert (13.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks) are solid options. Derrick Favors (11.4 points) and Rodney Hood (team-leading 15.6 points) are other key pieces for the Jazz. Joe Johnson, Alec Burks, Thabo Sefolosha, Donovan Mitchell (13.9 points) and Ekpe Udoh are contributors for coach Quin Snyder. Utah is 28th in the league as they shoot 43.1 percent from the floor. The Jazz are 18th in the league in threes per game as they knock down 9.8 triples a night. Utah is 22nd in the league in three point shooting as they knock down 34.7 percent from beyond the arc.
- Timberwolves are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up loss
- Jazz are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 vs. NBA Northwest
Minnesota has struggled on the road this season and their defense has been poor at best. Jimmy Butler has stated that the Timberwolves’ defense has to improve or else. It’s tough to just try and pile up points and outscore teams if you’re not slowing the opposition at all. Utah has the opposite problem as their defense keeps them in games but their offense has been lousy. The Jazz hope to have Gobert back for this one as his presence in the middle is important. In the end, Minnesota’s defense or lack thereof helps propel the Jazz to the win and a return to the .500 mark.
Pick: Utah Jazz
Minnesota has to find ways to stop the opposition from scoring practically at will. The Timberwolves were expected to improve defensively with the addition of Butler and Gibson to coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation. The problem is that Wiggins still seems disinterested on the defensive end and Towns tends to chase blocks to end up out of position. Utah’s offense is not an up and down style where they can pile up points but one has to wonder if they can take advantage of Minnesota’s deficiencies on that end of the floor.
The over is 6-0 in the Timberwolves’ last 6 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600, 5-1 in their last six games on Monday and 4-1-1 in their last six after a straight up loss. Utah has seen the over go 5-1-1 in their last seven on one day of rest, 5-1 in their last six on Monday, 4-1-1 in their last six against teams with a winning record and 5-2 in their last seven overall. Given Minnesota’s problems on defense, this one likely just squeaks over the total.