Tim's Game Preview: Game 44, Utah Jazz

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At least another month and a half in Minnesota for Michael Beasley.

Minnesota Timberwolves (22-21) vs. Utah Jazz (20-22) at EnergySolutions Arena

The trade deadline has come and gone. Jamal Crawford is still a member of Portland Trail Blazers, Michael Beasley is not a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Timberwolves' roster is exactly the same as it was yesterday.

With the potential trade rumors out of the way, it's time to focus on the playoffs. Currently, the Wolves are in 9th place in the West, 1 1/2 games out of the 8th seed. Standing in the Wolves' way are the Dallas Mavericks (24-20), the Houston Rockets (24-20) and the Denver Nuggets (24-19). The Phoenix Suns and the Utah Jazz are two teams below us, both 20-22, who could catch the Wolves. Portland and Golden State appear to have thrown in the towel on this season.

Tonight, the Wolves take on the Jazz without Beasley, who suffered an injury to his toe in Monday night's win over the Phoenix Suns. Utah is in the second night of a back-to-back after a loss to the aforementioned Suns.

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Al Jefferson and Devin Harris have been trying to get Utah back into the playoffs. After a hot start to the season, the Jazz have come back down to earth.

Projected Starting Lineups

C: Nikola Pekovic vs. Al Jefferson
PF: Kevin Love vs. Paul Millsap
SF: Wesley Johnson vs. Josh Howard
SG: Martell Webster vs. Raja Bell
PG: Luke Ridnour vs. Devin Harris

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The Blazers apparently wanted the Wolves to include Luke Ridnour in a deal for Jamal Crawford and the Wolves said no. Ridnour will continue to run the show at the point guard spot in Ricky Rubio's absence.

Last 5 Games

Minnesota Timberwolves (3rd in Northwest, 10 1/2 behind OKC; 9th in West, 1 1/2 behind Dallas)

Mon, Mar 5: Win vs. LA Clippers 95-94
Wed, Mar 7: Win vs. Portland 106-94
Fri, Mar 9: Loss vs. LA Lakers 102-105
Sat, Mar 10: Loss vs. New Orleans 89-95
Mon, Mar 12: Win at Phoenix 127-124

Utah Jazz (4th in Northwest, 12 behind OKC; 11th in West, 12 behind Dallas)

Wed, Mar 7: Win at Charlotte 99-93
Fri, Mar 9: Loss at Philadelphia 91-104
Sat, Mar 10: Loss at Chicago 97-111
Mon, Mar 12: Win vs. Detroit 105-90
Wed, Mar 14: Loss at Phoenix 111-120

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With an expiring contract, a lack of minutes and no more chance of alley-oops from Rubio, is there a chance Anthony Randolph is a buyout candidate before the end of the season?

Injuries

Minnesota Timberwolves

Michael Beasley - Questionable with sore left toe

Ricky Rubio - Out for season with torn ligament in left knee

Utah Jazz

Josh Howard - Probable with sore right achilles

Earl Watson - Questionable after spraining left ankle last night against Phoenix

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Wolves' fans should feel good that one of their main competitors for the Western Conference playoffs just traded Nene for JaVale McGee. Of course, this does mean that the Manimal will likely be getting more minutes.

Noteworthy Trades

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Today's trade deadline was chaotic and entertaining enough that I did not watch a second of the NCAA tournament. I still think Baylor makes it to the Final Four though (with Michigan State, Ohio State and North Carolina).

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