The All Star break is upon us as the Wolves take on the Jazz Wednesday night before the extended layoff. The Pups were able to hold on Monday night to defeat the Cavs in Cleveland to improve their record to 19-30. The Jazz come into Wednesday’s game off of a win Tuesday night at home against the reigning conference champions, the OKC Thunder. The win moved Utah’s record to 29-24 on the season.
Earlier this season, the Pups took it on the chin in Utah, getting blown out by the Jazz 106-84. The Jazz front line dominated the Wolves in that game, and that was when the Wolves were playing with Kirilenko, Love, and Pekovic in the starting lineup. Since that meeting in early January, the Wolves have essentially fallen out of the playoff picture, while the Jazz remain in the hunt, fighting with the Rockets and others for the last two seeds in the Western Conference.
Player to watch:
Alec Burks – Curveball alert! Burks is the player to watch because I would like him to be on the Timberwolves roster by the time the trading deadline comes and goes. The 6’6 swingman has not progressed in his second year in the league, still struggling to get minutes on the Jazz. He is shooting under 40% from the field, but is shooting 34% from 3PT range, which would put him near the top of the Wolves roster.
Match-up to watch:
Nikola Pekovic vs. Al Jefferson. The matchup in the middle is clearly the most appealing coming into Wednesday’s game. Jefferson leads the Jazz in scoring and rebounding this season. However, his name has popped up in trade rumors, given the crowded frontcourt the Jazz possess. During his time with the Wolves, Big Al showcased his offensive repertoire on a nightly basis and it will be important for Pek to night bite on too many of the fakes and to stay out of foul trouble.
I would normally take the Wolves in this game given the Jazz are coming off a game Tuesday night and now travelling to Minnesota. I think (see: hope) this game will be a lot closer and the Wolves can steal it, but I’ll go on record and say the Jazz are able to pull this off. (In other words, the Wolves are a lock!)
Final score prediction: Twolves 98, Jazz 102
Three stars of the game predictions:
- Paul Millsap
- Gordon Hayward
- Ricky Rubio
Let’s go Wolves!