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Game Preview #25: Wolves at Jazz

The Wolves look to make it three wins in their last four games; as a homecoming for Rudy Gobert is set into motion.

Utah Jazz v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Game Info

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What to Watch For

Rudy Gobert’s play on the court has been hit and miss for the better part of the season. It’s hard to say what exactly we’re going to get tonight, but the guarantee I’ll make is that plenty of emotion will be worn on his sleeve (or lack thereof) Friday evening.

For the first time, the seemingly-lifelong member of the Utah Jazz not too long ago will be back in Salt Lake City donning another jersey.

His tenure in a Jazz uniform is the sole reason Minnesota had to give up five first round picks and plenty of solid depth pieces. Three defensive players of the year, three all-star games, four all-NBA teams, and six all-defensive teams aided his route to being a fan favorite. And it seems he still owns his Utah home as well.

It’s the main story, it’s a great story, and coming off of a signature Rudy Gobert game on Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers, the big man has plenty of momentum rolling into his homecoming against a surprisingly good Jazz team.

Gobert is not alone...

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Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell have been rounding into form, as fans have been pleading for since a turbulent start to the season. Edwards’ 26 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, and SEVEN (7) steals on Wednesday was the first time a player has put up that statline since Russell Westbrook in 2016 (via StatMuse).

Edwards has also led the league in steals over the last three games, averaging six per contest. Ball containment has been a major issue this season, but Ant’s increased activity on the defensive side of the ball has been nothing short of impressive; and has driven winning.

Speaking of better performances, D’Angelo Russell has also been red-hot over the last three games.

Russell is averaging more than 23 points and six dimes over this overall rejuvenated team stretch. He’s facilitated the offense well too, and an increase in defensive effort has been welcomed. Last Saturday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he dove on the floor to try and win a 50/50 ball. I thought I was hallucinating...

He’s been awesome, and there’s not much to dispute about it. He nearly singlehandedly closed out the game on Wednesday, with 15 fourth quarter points.

One more thing: While the Wolves started out the season as one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, they’ve quietly been top five in contested rebounding percentage over the last three games. I wonder if there’s a correlation to winning there...

Prop Corner

Below are three props I like for the upcoming game. All lines, as usual, provided by DraftKings Sportsbook.

POINTS: Anthony Edwards O26.5 (-105)

Vegas loves this game being a high-scoring affair, and because of it there aren’t a ton of point props at great value. However, Anthony Edwards is on an absolute tear. He’s scored 26+ points in the last five games. While 26 would be a loss, the odds are worth taking a shot. History says he’ll be in striking range by the fourth.

THREES: Malik Beasley O4.5 (+115)

I know two things about Malik Beasley for a fact; he loves taking shots, and he does not lack confidence. Those two things will be accentuated by facing his former team on his home floor. I hate making bets that are dead in the water upon tipoff. This won’t be. He may not hit five threes, but he’ll hoist up plenty of opportunities; and the odds make it worth trying.

ASSISTS: Kyle Anderson O3.5 (+125)

Anderson has been a bit of a frustrating watch as of late, but he’s eclipsed this number in three of his last four games. I also feel pretty good about the ball being in his hands plenty tonight. With Jarred Vanderbilt being a likely matchup, he’ll do a lot more passing than driving...