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Timberwolves at Jazz: Game #76

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The Wolves face the Jazz for the final time this season, looking to hurt Utah's playoff chances.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Wolves at Jazz
8:00 pm CDT
FS North Plus

Random note: did you know the Jazz arena is now called the Vivint Smart Home Arena? I didn't.

This is the last meeting of the year between the Jazz and the Wolves, with the Jazz having won two of the first three match ups, including a 94-83 Wolves loss at Target Center on Saturday. That was an ugly offensive game for the Wolves who were coming off the double-overtime win in Washington the night before, and clearly did not have their legs, and was distinguished (on the good side) only by Ricky Rubio's fantastic performance. The Wolves kept that one close until the start of the fourth quarter, when the Jazz sprinted out to a double digit lead that the Wolves could not overcome.

This time, the Wolves are coming off one of their worst games of the season, the debacle on Wednesday night against the Clippers where they simply failed to compete. With the Phoenix win in between those two losses, I wonder if we're beginning to see some regression to the mean in terms of shooting for some of our guys, who were red hot since the all-star break, probably unsustainably so. At any rate, with only seven games left in the season, hopefully they can have a few more good performances.

The Jazz are in a desperate battle for the last couple of playoff spots in the Western Conference. They are currently tied for 7th/8th with the Mavs, with the Rockets just a half game behind in the 9th spot. I shouldn't have to write too much about them, as we saw them less than a week ago. Derrick Favors used his quickness and agility to get open looks against the Wolves front line, Gordon Hayward took over when it mattered, and the Jazz did a terrific job defending the rim, blocking nine Wolves shots and altering a lot more. Both Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine struggled on their forays to the basket in that game. Hopefully they have fresher legs tonight.

The Jazz had won eight of ten games until an overtime loss at home to the Warriors on Wednesday; a loss that probably says as much about their good current form as any of the wins in that stretch. They were up five with under four minutes left, and still up three in the final 30 seconds, but Klay Thompson hit a game tying three to send it to overtime, where the Warriors superiority came through. Still, it was a terrific performance by a team that is playing very well as we reach the end of the season.

I suspect the Jazz will grab one of the final two spots in the playoffs, and they deserve to. But a loss to the Wolves tonight would hurt them significantly. Let's try to give them that loss.

Expected lineups

Jazz

Shelvin Mack
Rodney Hood
Gordon Hayward
Derrick Favors
Rudy Gobert

Wolves

Ricky Rubio
Zach LaVine
Andrew Wiggins
Gorgui Dieng
Karl-Anthony Towns

Our blogging buddies are over at SLC Dunk. Be excellent.

No pics gifs links to illegal streams.

Enjoy. Chat. Go.