Game 44 Preview: Utah Jazz vs Minnesota Timberwolves

Utah Jazz (20-22) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (22-21)

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Last game: Minnesota: W, 127-124 vs Phoenix, Utah: L, 120-111 vs (ironically) Phoenix

Heres a picture of Luke Ridnour, just in case he isnt a Timberwolf anymore tonight.

Here's a picture of Luke Ridnour, just in case he isn't a Timberwolf anymore tonight.

Both Minnesota and Utah faced Phoenix in their last game, Minnesota on Monday, Utah last night. Both Minnesota and Utah’s defensive efficiencies took a major hit, but Minnesota was able to escape with a win, thanks mostly to another huge game from Kevin Love, who put up 30 points including 5-9 shooting from behind the arc. Derrick Williams also played well, shooting a tidy 7-10 from the field for 19 points.

Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap led Utah in scoring with 18 a piece, but were badly outplayed by Phoenix’s big men Marcin Gortat and Channing Frye, who scored 25 and 26 respectively.

The Key Questions

#1. Will Michael Beasley and Luke Ridnour still be Timberwolves?

Unfortunately, every sign indicates no. Beasley trade talks have been “heating up” according to the internet’s mysterious “sources,” and apparently Luke Ridnour’s name has been included in the discussions. This, of course, means that if the trade goes down today, the Wolves will have Barea (who can’t stay healthy) starting at point guard until Jamal Crawford arrives. Then Crawford (who led a “mutiny” against his coach because he hated playing point guard) will take over at point guard.

Yep. This should go well.

Oh, and by the way, the last time these teams met, Ridnour hit a game-winning floater. But nah. Deal him away. We don’t need him.

#2. Can the Wolves bottle their 3-point shooting against the Suns?

Let’s be clear about two things.

1. The Wolves would have lost by a LOT on Monday if they hadn’t made so many threes. 13-22 from behind the arc for 63%? That’s insane. Perhaps the Wolves can start to improve their three point shooting now?

2. I hated every minute of that game. There was little defense. Both teams were jacking up shots from behind the arc, and I found myself on the edge of cardiac arrest for the entire second half. Just awful. Now get off my lawn.

#3. How much of an impact will fatigue play?

The Wolves got a rare gift from the NBA’s schedule makers: two days off. The Jazz played a fast paced game last night against the Suns. For once, if fatigue plays a factor, Minnesota will actually benefit.

The Key Matchups

Al Jefferson vs Nikola Pekovic should be entertaining. When these teams played in February, the big men came close to matching each other. And though many experts expected Pek’s numbers to drop off when Rubio went down for the season, Pek went off for 24 points Monday against Phoenix.

Paul Millsap is a notorious Kevin Love-killer. Love’s performance may prove to be important tonight, especially if the Wolves are playing with a smaller roster.

JJ Barea scored 22 points last time these teams met, and was key in leading the Wolves back from an 83-67 4th quarter deficit. Barea’s contributions might be even more necessary tonight. You know, if he’s the only point guard on the roster and stuff.

The Outlook

If Beasley and Ridnour are gone, I have a hard time believing that the Wolves can win tonight, which would drop them to 2 games behind the Rockets in the Western Conference playoff race. If both players are (miraculously) still Timberwolves, Minnesota’s depth and rest should be enough to push them to a win.

Game starts at 8 on Fox Sports North

About Jonah Steinmeyer

Been a Wolves fan for probably way too long to be considered a sane human anymore. An avid golfer in my free time. I cheer for Minnesota sports but live in Florida.

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