Wolves at Jazz
8:00 pm CDT
NO LOCAL TELEVISION
If you rely on Fox Sports North for your Wolves viewing, you will be spared tonight because it isn't on local television in the Cities. If you must, you can listen to the dulcet tones of Alan Horton on the radio. It might sound better than it looks.
The situation is intolerable. Yet another player, this time Gary Neal, will be unavailable for tonight's game, and it doesn't appear as if the Wolves will have anyone else back. Kevin Garnett and Ricky Rubio are listed as questionable, meaning they are in Utah, but I seriously doubt either will play. Everyone else who has been out remains out, meaning once again the Wolves will have the league minimum eight available players.
I get that the season is ending, and a lot of people don't care about winning. I don't want guys out there who are hurt. But how does it come to this? Game after game with virtually nobody available? It's painful to watch, guys are exhausted, and I'm worried about further injuries.
Kevin Garnett has managed to appear in five games since the Wolves traded Thad Young for him more than a month ago. What I thought was going to be a two week injury for Anthony Bennett has now stretched to a month with no end in sight. Ricky Rubio tweaked his ankle a bit a few games ago, but managed to go in Toronto in the meantime.
I hope that some of this can be solved for next season. Nikola Pekovic will probably never be healthy for a full season, but it makes it very hard if you compound that by using a roster spot on Kevin Garnett, who also isn't going to be healthy.
On the bright side, at least Lorenzo Brown is getting some playing time and looking fairly competent at the point guard spot, and Chase Budinger seems to have perked up as well over the last few games.
As for the Jazz, things seem headed in the right direction for them. This season has seen the emergence of a very interesting young core of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert, all of whom are 25 or younger. The front court seems in good shape going forward, as Favors has taken a major step, and Gobert has been a 2nd year revelation, especially defensively, where he is among the best centers in the league. The Jazz, behind these two guys and others, are among the best rebounding teams in the league.
Hayward, meanwhile, is earning his max contract by taking on the bulk of the scoring load, and doing so efficiently in what is proving to be his best year as a pro so far. The Jazz still might be looking for a point guard after using the last two drafts to try to find one--Trey Burke is now in his 2nd season and has been very up and down, while rookie Dante Exum has struggled but is still young. Whether one of those two can seize the job is a big story for the Jazz over the next couple of seasons.
But it's clear that this is a team on the rise, headed by a young and intimidating front court. They have gone 14-5 over their last 19 games, and look like an entirely different team since Gobert has been getting major playing time. Once again I expect the Wolves to struggle to score in the paint, a problem that usually leads to lots of jumpers, low field goal percentages, and, ultimately, losses. The Jazz beat the Wolves in both earlier meetings this season, with Trey Burke scoring 26 and 28 in the two games. Burke seems to plague the Wolves. We'll see what happens tonight.
Gordon Hayward Joe Ingles(?)
LATE UPDATE: No Gordon Hayward tonight; out with a strained knee.
Here's a link to our friends at SLC Dunk, the other SBN NBA blog with a writer whose seriously into cricket. Be excellent.
No no and no.
Enjoy. Chat. Go.