What To Watch For
Holy smokes. Can you guys believe we’re already to the 50th game of the season? The Utah Jazz are coming into this game on a four game losing streak and will be without Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Could be a major opportunity for the Minnesota Timberwolves to steal a win against a top Western Conference team.
Mitchell in particular being out may be a blessing in disguise as defensive coordinator D’Angelo Russell and defensive hounds Patrick Beverley and Josh Okogie are out for the game. On the bright side, Leandro Bolmaro has joined the team as a “break glass in case of emergency” defensive hound. Never mind, he’s also out with an ankle sprain.
This game will mostly be about those injuries though. I was going to say that it’ll be interesting to see how Jazz head coach Quinn Snyder approaches guarding Karl-Anthony Towns without Gobert however, even Snyder will be missing as he just entered COVID protocols. Typically though he’s sent a forward to guard him and let Gobert play the back line. Hassan Whiteside is great, but it’ll be a lot harder for him to mirror the support coverage that Rudy Gobert provides.
Another thing to watch will be Malik Beasley’s play. He has started to show some flashes of being the Beasley that we all know and appreciate and if he can get through this game, he has Denver (who he usually plays well against) and then four games combined between Detroit and Sacramento. Would be the perfect time for him to get his season back on track.
If Minnesota breaks .500 again with a win tonight it’ll be the first time aside from the Jimmy Butler year that they’ve been .500 or better since the 2004-2005 season. That year featured Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassel, Wally Szcerbiak, Latrell Sprewell, Trenton Hassell, and the late great Flip Saunders as head coach.
Tonight’s @Timberwolves starters vs. Utah:— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) January 31, 2022
Beverley - Right Ankle Sprain
Bolmaro - Left Ankle Sprain
Okogie - Right Quad Contusion
Russell - Left Shin Contusion
Wright IV - G League Two-Way
While it would’ve been fun to see what a full strength Wolves team looks like against a full strength Jazz team, as I mentioned earlier the story of this game is unfortunately injuries. Will still be a very exciting game as Mike Conley, Joe Ingles, and Bojan Bogdanovic are all great players in their own right and Minnesota will be missing their arguably most important player in D’Angelo Russell.
Prediction time — The Jazz will likely be too shorthanded to keep up with the star power the Wolves still have. Anthony Edwards has been red hot and Karl-Anthony Towns has no Rudy Gobert to worry about. Minnesota should take this one in a hopefully convincing manner. Wolves 120-Jazz 105.