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Game Preview #2: Wolves vs Jazz

The Minnesota Timberwolves welcome some friendly faces back to Target Center as they play host to the Utah Jazz

Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Game Info

What To Watch For

Well, the obvious storyline here is the “revenge game” aspect all over the place. The Wolves and Jazz made arguably the biggest move of the summer with the Rudy Gobert trade. Tonight will be the first time in Gobert’s career facing the team that he spent the first nine seasons of career with. It will also be the first opportunity for former Timberwolves Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, Leandro Bolmaro, and Walker Kessler to face off with the franchise that traded them. Truthfully, it’s going to be a bittersweet moment even for me, as Vando and Malik were two guys who really embraced being Timberwolves.

Once we get past all of that, there’s an interesting game to be played. Utah is likely to be a team that tanks as the season moves along, but that will be because of what the front office does. As currently constructed and with the players they have available, this is a team that can still make you pay if you take them lightly. Just ask the Denver Nuggets.

As is always the case against a less talented team, the Wolves cannot afford to overlook this opponent. Beyond that, this will be a fun matchup because of how different Utah is stylistically to what the Wolves faced on Wednesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Oklahoma City is maybe the smallest team in the league, while Utah is currently one of the biggest. They start all three of Lauri Markkanen (6’11”), Vanderbilt (6’9”), and Kelly Olynyk (6’11”). They also bring in Kessler off the bench, who stands 7’1”.

While Wednesday was a great game to establish Gobert underneath the basket, this should be a better opportunity for Karl-Anthony Towns to get it going. I’m going to take an early guess that Utah chooses to use Vanderbilt as a wing stopper, leaving Markkanen and Olynyk to deal with Towns and Gobert. If that’s the case, the Wolves should look to get Towns the ball at the top of the key and let him drive and kick. His passing looked great on Wednesday, and the Wolves will need that again, but there should be more opportunities for him to drive and get all the way to the rim tonight as well. I’m expecting a big game for KAT.

Aside from the bigs, the Wolves perimeter defense needs to be up to the task tonight. While night All-Star household names, Utah has plenty of guys who can fill it up in a hurry if you overlook them. Between Beasley, Collin Sexton, and Jordan Clarkson, this Jazz team has some spurtability to it. The Wolves need to be ready to move their feet and contest without fouling. Attention to detail will be important.

Lastly, give Vando and Malik their own tributes video, come on!

Unveiling the Statement Edition Uniforms

The Wolves are showing off their new Statement Edition uniforms tonight, and I am personally really excited to see how they look in person. The photos and videos all look pretty sharp, and I think they’ll look even better in action. While it is sad to see Statement Saturday’s go, it is still a fun opportunity to showcase some great gear.

Injury Report

There are no injuries more Minnesota, and the only injury to report for Utah is Udoka Azubuike is OUT as he recovers from ankle surgery. Both teams are healthy, and I expect this to be a more competitive game than you may think. Let’s enjoy a fun night at Target Center, as the quest for 82-0 carries on.