The Utah Jazz and the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves will battle for the second time this season, after a close call in the Target Center two weeks ago. Neither team comes in high spirits, struggling to find consistency, and the hosts have to cope with injuries to some key parts.
Timberwolves at Jazz
Spread: Minnesota Timberwolves -3.5 (-110) at BetDSI Sportsbook
Total: o/u 208 points (-110)
After losing in Phoenix, Butler calls for better defense
Following a five-game winning streak in which the final three opponents were held to 99 points or fewer, the Timberwolves allowed an average of 121.5 points through the first two games of the trip – both losses. There wasn’t much they could do to stop the red-hot Warriors (even though Durant sat out that game), but they can’t be satisfied with a 118-110 loss in Phoenix.
After the loss, Jimmy Butler went vocal and shared his displeasure with Wolves defense with the media, which is certainly a move we’ve grown accustomed to with him, but the timing for him to showcase his leadership was questionable at best. Not only he’s been a part of the Wolves organizations for just a few months (and few weeks of competitive basketball) but he also played poorly in Phoenix. He was 5-of-17 from the field (he did make up for it going 14-of-16 from the free throw line) and scored 25 points while his direct opposition Devin Booker led all scorers with 35 points on 13-of-22 shooting. On the other hand, the Wolves were indeed undone by the usual malaise – poor D and the lack of bench contribution. Jeff Teague was a walking (sometimes running) disaster with missed shots, turnovers and foul trouble, and yet he played 31 minutes – his court time was by far the least of all starters, as there’s no support. Dieng did not play, Crawford and Muhammed couldn’t heat up quickly enough so it left the Wolves playing 7 guys over 10 minutes.
Bjelica and Tyus Jones actually turned the game around during their play spanning end of third and the start of the fourth quarter – the Wolves have gone to their second unit down six and when the starters returned, they were up 7. However, it had much to do with the Suns playing their second unit as well. Finally, the long shot was not falling once again. I counted on it when I made the pick on the Suns two days ago, but I didn’t envision such inaptitude myself – Minny shooters were 4-of-20 for the night, against one of the worst defenses in the NBA. Overall, Minnesota shot 40.6 percent and can only thank the whistles, for now, get overrun by a poor Phoenix team. It’s a big step back.
The bench was also shorter than usual as the reserve center Gorgui Dieng was absent due to a finger injury. Neither him nor deep rotation big Aldrich will play in Utah. After Monday, the Timberwolves will play six of their next eight at home.
Place: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
Date/Time: Monday, November 13th, 2017. 9:00 PM ET
TV Coverage: ATTSN-RM, FSNN
Even without Gobert, the Jazz stop the slide
Losing streak is finally in the past, but a 114-106 win against the lowly Nets won’t remedy the things gone bad during the previous four-game stretch when the Utah Jazz wouldn’t come close to last season’s level, nor the early season grit. Still, the win is a win, especially as the Jazz were shorthanded.
Defensive anchor Rudy Gobert missed the game due to a knee injury suffered one night earlier against Miami. Thabo Sefolosha slid into the starting lineup and produced admirably, proving again how overlooked he was as an addition to this Jazz team. The Jazz started the night strongly and once the Nets responded and took the lead, they would shift into another gear and opened up a comfortable double-digit lead until the final minutes of the game, when the Nets managed to pull within 5. That’s where Gobert was missed – the defense wasn’t as stingy as with him. They held the Nets to 45 first-half points, but gave up 61 in the second. Rookie Donovan Mitchell was once again the high-point guy with 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field, but Rodney Hood’s 5-of-8 three-point shooting was as impactful. Hood finished with 19 points off the bench. Favors turned back the clock and overpowered the Nets on the inside for 24 points and 12 rebounds, playing 36 minutes. Ingles and Rubio were also in double-digits. Rubio and Sefolosha combined for 9 steals.
The severity of Gobert’s injury isn’t clear, making him questionable to play against the Wolves in this game. Joe Johnson’s injury has been impactful, to say the least, but even that can’t compare to the magnitude of change the Stifle Tower brings by sitting. On top of the obvious, Favors’ high minutes shouldn’t be ignored as the Jazz are playing for the third time in four nights – his knees might become a factor if he’s required to carry the load inside once again.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Utah Jazz Game Trends & Prediction
The Minnesota Timberwolves failed to deliver in either of the road losses, falling to 5-6-1 against the spread overall, and 2-4-1 when away from home. With so many big names on the roster, they’ll likely lose value more quickly than they gain it, so I’m not surprised. Despite being 8-4 this season, they are showing a -3.0 points margin, usually a much better indicator of a team’s strength than the record itself, and especially telling for wagering. The totals are here and there – 6-5 overall this season, with no significant trends home or away. However, their last five games stayed below the set line – the reason for this was not the lack of scoring as much as the bloated lines after five overs in a row.
Against Brooklyn, the Jazz covered by a point and the game also went over the closing line. They’ve split the games played last week to two struggles on offense and two struggles on defense, so they can’t impose their will and dictate the flow of the game right now. This season, Utah is 7-6 against the spread, 6-3 at home, and 5-7 on the O/U, 4-5 in Salt Lake City.
Admi-Rank: The Utah Jazz managed to slow down the decline, but not to bring it to a halt, while the bad loss to Phoenix affected the Timberwolves stock. Not much separates the two, and it’s clear that neither is too happy about being average like they currently are.
Minnesota won by 27 points in a visit to Utah last season, its largest margin of victory ever in the series. It’s going to be hard to replicate, but they’ll have a chance if Gobert sits. No, I’m not suggesting that this is close to what the spread should be, not at all, but there’s a significant difference between not having your defensive anchor against Mozgov and the outside shooting happy Nets, and the Minnesota T-Wolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns and Wiggins-Butler combo of penetrating wings.
Obviously, the bookies won’t give any early odds as there would be a massive value on one side for too long, so they’re likely to wait as long as they can for the news about Gobert’s status to appear. With some news indicating that Gobert might be out 4-6 weeks, I will take the Timberwolves as my pick in this one and go with the over.
My Pick: Minnesota Timberwolves -3.5 (-110)
Total: Over 208 points (-110)
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