A couple of middle-tier Western Conference squads face off tonight as the 7-5 Minnesota Timberwolves visit the 6-7 Utah Jazz (9pm ET Monday).
The Timberwolves are 7-5 but they have underwhelmed in many of their games. Their point differential of minus-3 per game actually ranks them 11th in the Western Conference. Minnesota’s defense remains poor. They have been losing big and winning tight games.
Utah recently received news that star center Rudy Gobert will be out for four to six weeks with a bone bruise on his knee. This is a huge blow to the team on both ends of the floor, but especially on defense.
How will the depleted Jazz deal with the offensively explosive Timberwolves? We will predict the contest’s most important storylines before deciding how those factors will affect the final score. This preview will conclude with our betting predictions and picks in a bid to outfox the American friendly sports betting sites.
Will Utah’s Shooters Heat Up Against Minnesota’s Unreliable Defense?
The Jazz are a bad offensive team. They have no legitimate No. 1 scorer and not enough dynamic playmakers with the ball. Their outside shooting is on and off and is usually what enables them to manufacture enough offense to win.
In victories, Utah cans 11.8 threes per game at a 40.1 percent clip. Those numbers drop to 8.1 and 29.7 percent, respectively, then the Jazz lose.
Shooters like Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Rodney Hood and Ricky Rubio are the high-volume guys on this team. They need to be steady in today’s contest to make up for the lack of easy looks the Jazz will get inside of the arc. If Minnesota continues playing poor defense, the Jazz shooters should get plenty of open looks.
Will Timberwolves Help Jimmy Butler Finally Find Rhythm?
The Timberwolves are a solid 7-5, but Butler, the Wolves’ prized offseason acquisition, has yet to really find himself with Minnesota. He is averaging just 15.7 points and 4.2 assists per game, both three-year lows, along with a career-high 2.4 turnovers per contest.
It seems like Butler is either forcing shots or being too passive, with the latter being the more prevalent occurrence. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are using too many possessions when Butler is on the floor.
Minnesota needs to get some easy shots for Butler within the flow of offense. Then, maybe he will have the confidence to call his own number more often. The Wolves can be much more dangerous if Butler is a 20-point-per-game scorer this season.
Can Rudy Gobert’s Replacement Do Enough to Stop Timberwolves’ Interior Scoring?
Gobert missed his first game of the season against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday. In that contest, Utah decided to start shooting guard in his place, shifting to a small-ball opening lineup. Against the Timberwolves, who play a bigger frontcourt (Taj Gibson and Karl-Anthony Towns), it is more likely that Gobert’s replacement will be a big man.
Jonas Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh are the two players who could take that spot. Obviously, neither is close to the caliber of player Gobert is. Jerebko is more of a finesse big man, while Udoh is a pure shot-blocker and rim protector who doesn’t do much else.
Minnesota, with Towns and wings Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins, puts a lot of pressure around the rim. The Wolves average the fourth-most points in the paint per game, and they attempt the seventh-most free throws per game. Utah will need whoever replaces Gobert to protect the basket adequately so Minnesota doesn’t get all it wants inside.
Our Preview’s Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Utah Jazz Picks & Betting Predictions
Minnesota’s big man depth will also be tested today, as Gorgui Dieng and Cole Aldrich are both questionable for this game. However, Rudy Gobert is just a massive loss for the Jazz.
Utah did fine against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday without Gobert, but the Timberwolves are another few levels higher than Brooklyn. Their roster will require a more “big-ball” approach that Utah can’t supply without Gobert.
- According to most betting sites, Minnesota is a 3.5-point favorite. This game could go either way against the spread, but the Wolves are due for a breakout, and the Jazz should flounder without their best player. 5Dimes, Bookmaker and BetOnline all offer the best odds of Timberwolves -3.5 @ -110 and that is our advised bet.
- The Jazz defense is very dependent on Gobert and the Timberwolves’ defense just isn’t good. Because of these factors, don’t be surprised if this game is a bit on the high-scoring side. Go with the over 207.5 @ -110 with Bookmaker or BetOnline.