Minnesota remains one of the biggest surprises in the Western Conference through the first month of the season. The Timberwolves come in with an 8-6 overall record, including a 5-2 mark on the road, putting them in eighth place in the Western Conference standings. Meanwhile, Utah enters this matchup tied for fifth-place in the West with an 8-5 record. Can the Jazz rebound from back-to-back losses and get their revenge against the Timberwolves on Wednesday night?
Shot selection becoming a problem for JazzThe Jazz will be trying to rebound from a 112-102 loss at home against the Timberwolves on Monday night. Bojan Bogdanovic scored a team-high 18 points to lead six Jazz players in double-figures on the night but Utah shot just 36.5 percent from the field in the loss. Utah went cold in the fourth quarter, allowing Minnesota to go on a crucial 18-2 run to seize control of the game. Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley combined to shoot just 11-for-38 from the field on the night, finishing with 17 and 15 points, respectively.
The Jazz will get a second shot at Minnesota on the road on Wednesday. Utah could use some more production from its bench, which ranks among the worst units in the league to start the year. The move to send 32-year-old Joe Ingles to the bench was supposed to bolster the second unit, but Ingles has been mired in a wicked slump to start the year. Ingles, who started all but one game over the previous two seasons, is shooting just 34.4 percent from the field and 30.0 percent from 3-point range, which is well below his career mark of 40.5 percent.
Another problem for the Jazz has been poor shot selection, particularly from Mitchell and sometimes even Conley. In the game against Minnesota, Utah shot just 3-for-20 between 3-and-10 feet and Mitchell was 0-for-6 on shots from that range on his own. For the season, Mitchell is shooting only 37.2 percent in the paint (non-restricted area) while Conley is shooting just 33.3 percent from there and both players are taking nearly one-third of their shots from that range.
Towns proving to be comfortable behind the arcMinnesota will try to win their second straight game against the Jazz on Wednesday night. With Rudy Gobert manning the middle of the Jazz’ defense, Karl-Anthony Towns took matters into his own hands, making a career-high 7 of his 15 3-point attempts en route to 29 points and 13 rebounds in the 122-102 win on Monday. Jeff Teague stepped up with 21 points and 11 assists while rookie Kelan Martin came off the bench to chip in 14 for the Timberwolves, who played without former No.1-overall pick Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins was a late scratch with an illness and is considered questionable for Wednesday’s game.
Amazing game by Karl-Anthony Towns. He was agitated basically the entire time. Started off cold on three-pointers, but then by the end he was casually burying 28-footers and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year just gave up trying to chase him around. pic.twitter.com/WIXNUJ7jXC— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) November 19, 2019
Towns and Wiggins seem to finally be coming into their own as superstars this season.
All hope seemed lost for Wiggins, who had taken a step back over the previous two seasons, but he’s come on strong to start the year. After shooting under 70 percent from the free-throw line in each of the past two seasons, the 24-year-old swingman is back to his career average (73.5 percent) from the charity stripe, which is a good sign for the Timberwolves. Through 11 games, Wiggins is averaging 25.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game on 47.7 percent shooting from the field and 36.1 percent shooting from long-range -- all of which would represent career-highs.
On the other hand, Towns has been among the league’s most efficient players despite doubling his output from 3-point range. The 6-foot-11 big man is attempting a career-high 9.0 3-pointers per game and shooting a career-best 43.5 percent from beyond the arc in 12 games this season. Towns is averaging 27.0 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1.4 steals per game so far this season.
Despite their 8-5 start, the Timberwolves rank in the bottom half of the league in offensive rating, defensive rating, and net rating so far this year.
- Jazz are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. Western Conference.
- Jazz are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Jazz are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games.
- Timberwolves are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 vs. NBA Northwest