Utah Jazz vs Minnesota Timberwolves: Lineups, preview & prediction 4/1/18
The Jazz and the Timberwolves square off in Salt Lake City, with playoff seeding still very much on the line.
The Utah Jazz (43-33) bounced back from their heartbreaking loss to the Boston Celtics as they took care of the Memphis Grizzlies, 107-97. The Jazz have alternated wins and losses in their last seven games. Even with Ricky Rubio sidelined due to a sore hamstring, the Jazz were still able to handle the plucky Grizzlies, who had won two games in a row. Donovan Mitchell led the way for Utah with 22 points. Meanwhile, Dante Exum had his best game since returning from a shoulder injury as he dropped 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting off the bench. Joe Ingles also starred with 17 points and ten assists as he took over playmaking duties with Rubio out.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves (44-33) just about squeezed by the Dallas Mavericks, 93-92, to win their second game in a row. After dropping a career-high 56 points with 15 rebounds on the Atlanta Hawks, Karl-Anthony Towns had another huge game with 21 points and 20 rebounds. And with running mate Andrew Wiggins (eight points, 4-17 FG) struggling mightily from the floor, veteran Jamal Crawford stepped up with 24 big points off the bench.
Three keys to the game
KAT – Towns has been terrific for the Timberwolves over the last couple games. He’s also been instrumental in the Wolves’ two wins over the Jazz earlier in the season as he posted 20-10 double-doubles to lead the team in both contests. Minnesota will need Towns to be at his best once again vs. the Jazz, who are formidable on the road.
Jazz road form – Speaking of, Utah’s form on the road has been ridiculous. They’ve gone an incredible 13-1 in their last 14 games outside Salt Lake City, and it needed an incredible 45-point performance from LaMarcus Aldridge for the Spurs to beat them in overtime. They seem to have found the formula for success on the road and will be tough for Minnesota to handle.
Andrew Wiggins – Wiggins was a major dud last time out against Dallas as he scored below double-digits for the first time in well over a month. While they got away with it against the Mavs, that can’t happen again, especially against a tough Jazz team. The T-Wolves will need the Wiggins who went for 27 points in a losing effort against the Jazz earlier in the month if they hope to come away with the win.
Matchup to watch
Rudy Gobert vs Karl-Anthony Towns – The battle of the two star big men is without a doubt the marquee matchup in this game. Gobert got the better of Towns the last time they met as he went off for 26 points, 16 boards, and four blocks. But with Towns putting up monster numbers recently, he will look to return the favor at home.
Jazz projected starting lineup
PG – Donovan Mitchell | SG – Royce O’Neale | SF – Joe Ingles | PF – Derrick Favors | C – Rudy Gobert
Timberwolves projected starting lineup
PG – Jeff Teague | SG – Andrew Wiggins | SF – Nemanja Bjelica | PF – Taj Gibson | C – Karl-Anthony Towns
If Rubio once again misses out, look for Royce O’Neale and Ingles to be the big beneficiaries. O’Neale got 36 minutes against the Grizzlies, and he used that playing time to stuff the stat sheet with 13 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Meanwhile, Ingles has been playing some outstanding basketball lately, putting up 14.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 7.4 assists in his last five games.
As for the Timberwolves, Jeff Teague has had the most success against the Jazz this season apart from Towns. The veteran point guard has scored over 22 points in his last two meetings against them this season and should find more opportunities to score if Rubio remains sidelined.
It’s hard to bet against the Jazz on the road these days. They get things done. They should be able to take it to the Timberwolves who struggled to put away both the Hawks and the Mavs in back-to-back games. And if there’s any big man in the league who can put a stop to Towns’ recent hot streak, it’s the Stifle Tower, Gobert.
The Jazz extend their impressive run on the road as they take out the Timberwolves, 104-97.
This game will be broadcast on Fox Sports North and AT&T SportsNet – Rocky Mountain. Tip-off is at 7:00 pm Eastern.