Wolves host Jazz
It’s not often in the NBA that two teams face off in consecutive matches outside of the playoffs. It brings a sort of heightened atmosphere to an otherwise pedestrian early regular season game. How will the coaches make adjustments to the previous match? How will the players respond to these pivots?
Of course, that assumes that the Wolves are sure who is playing tonight. The injury bug has certainly bitten during this early stretch of the Wolves season. Jake Layman is out tonight and Andrew Wiggins is a game-time decision due to an illness he picked up while he was away from the team. Josh Okogie remains questionable.
Wiggins’ absence yet again would leave the Wolves incredibly light on the wing. Kelan Martin is sure to get some playing time and hopefully he can continue hitting threes, as without him hitting a few shots it is hard to see where the Wolves can turn for outside shooting.
The real question will be how the Jazz deal with the Rudy Gobert issue. Gobert, the perennial defensive player of the year, has struggled at times when forced to come out to the perimeter. This was the matchup that the Rockets always exploited.
However, it’s not often that a center can pull Gobert out all by himself. Thankfully, Karl-Anthony Towns is the center who can. Towns hit 7 of 15 threes against the Jazz, many of which were several feet beyond the arc, and Gobert was forced to spend a significant amount of time out on the perimeter, which drastically reduces his effectiveness on defense.
The Jazz could stick Gobert on a non-shooting wing like Treveon Graham and dare the Wolves to let Graham jack up open threes all game. However, doing that would leave a power forward on Towns and the Jazz do not have the personnel to try to play small against Towns.
The Jazz hope to get Donovan Mitchell going after his 5 of 23 showing against the Wolves. It is likely too much to expect that both Mitchell and Mike Conley will shoot poorly again tonight.
The Wolves gameplan is going to be incredibly dependent upon if Wiggins suits up or not. Even if Wiggins plays, which Andrew Wiggins are we going to see? Is the Wiggins ascent still happening or was that a brief hallucination?
With or without Wiggins, someone other than Towns is going to have to score. Jake Layman has been one of the more consistent three-point shooters on the Wolves this year (although he doesn’t have a lot of competition in that category) and playing without him tonight will compress the floor even more.
In the end, the Wolves’ path will be determined by how far Towns (and maybe Wiggins) can take them.
Projected Starting Lineups
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