The Jazz have certainly been one of the surprises of the NBA this season. Utah may have lost their franchise point guard, but they've got a plethora of capable big men: Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter, Paul Millsap & Derrick Favors. There biggest concerns remain in the backcourt starting Devin Harris (who Utah says they'll move sometime this season) & Raja Bell. And replacing Andrei Kirilenko whose contract expired this offseason, as he decided to not sign with any NBA team but rather stay in Russia to play this season--Gordon Hayward is Utah's new starting small forward.
Minnesota's biggest advantage could easily be in the backcourt. If Ricky Rubio & Luke Ridnour can get themselves out of their shooting slumps and Wayne Ellington continues to come off the bench and score in double-digits. Kevin Love will have to battle in the paint against some of the best Western Conference big men. I highly doubt Darko will even come close to the output he had vs. the Clippers (22pts, 7rebs, 2blks on 10-of-15 shooting), Nikola Pekovic obliged with another solid game off the bench--8pts on 4-of-4 shooting!
The Jazz are coming off a 3-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Utah dropped it 91-94 on Thursday in Utah. They'll come into tonight's game "fresh" and ready to play this upstart Wolves team, that's been just as much a surprise as them. Versus Dallas Big Al had 22pts, 9rebs, 2stls and Millsap had 16pts & 13rebs. C.J. Miles came off the bench and had 17pts in 22 minutes (this, of course, was the same guy who dropped 40pts on the Wolves in a game last season).
Minnesota will again be without J.J. Barea. He didn't make the road trip this weekend, with a sore ankle, but should be back for the Wolves' games next week. Minnesota, will also, again, be without Michael Beasley as well as Malcolm Lee, Martell Webster & Brad Miller. Webster & Miller made the road trip, but aren't playing.
Utah has three players that all COULD play, but they also MAY NOT play. Devin Harris is considered a gametime decision with a 'virus'. Josh Howard has a quadriceps injury, he was limited in practice yesterday and is considered day-to-day. Lastly, reserve guard Jamaal Tinsley was inactive for Thursday's game with an illness, no word on if he's doing better, a good chance he plays--especially if Harris can't go. If Harris is out, expect Earl Watson to get the start at the point.
The Wolves were able to defeat the Clippers last night, but they were also able to limit some of their best players' minutes. Going down the line, Ridnour played 38 minutes, Love with 36 minutes, Darko with 34, Rubio with 32 minutes & Ellington with 31 minutes off the bench.
Tipoff tonight is set for 8pmCT from the Energy Solutions Arena in Utah. A full gameday recap can be found on this site following the final horn. As always, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!