Tonight’s game is a rematch from Saturday’s contest where the T-Wolves thrashed the Jazz 98-72 in Minnesota but the venue shifts to Utah as we analyze this contest in our NBA picks.
Minnesota Timberwolves (19-21 SU, 21-19 ATS)
The Wolves snapped a three-game slide when they tuned out the Jazz in a 98-72 victory on Saturday night. Minnesota is trying to piece together their first back-to-back wins in over three weeks but they will have to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued them in Utah as they have dropped their last seven games when visiting the Jazz on their home court.
The key to their success on Saturday night was dominating in the paint where they held a 50-18 advantage and got big efforts from center Nikola Pekovic who dropped in 27 points to go along with 14 boards. Kevin Love also played a role in the war won on the glass in Saturday’s game with 14 rebounds of his own leading the Jazz to 60 boards on the night versus only 42 for the Jazz.
If the T-Wolves are to prevail tonight they will need to dedicate themselves to defense as they did in their previous meeting with Utah. Despite being ranked 19th in the NBA in points allowed, they held the Jazz to an anemic 72 points and cruised to an easy cover in NBA odds as 10 ½ point favorites. But it’s been a different team they have faced in Utah over their past seven meetings as the Jazz have averaged a whopping 111.6 points per game and have shot above 50% from the floor.
Utah Jazz (14-28 SU, 20-21-1 ATS)
The Jazz have alternated wins and losses since the New Year began and if the pattern holds they will be victorious tonight. They have shot close to 49% at home in winning five of their last six at Energy Solutions Arena and will no doubt count on Alec Burks to continue his solid play as of late. Burks was the only Utah player in double figures on Saturday night as he contributed 18 points, four assists and one steal in the bitter defeat. The second-year point guard out of Colorado University bounced back from a meager contribution in Utah’s Friday night victory over the Pistons when he garnered only six points in 28 minutes of action.
The Jazz got some very good news when leading scorer Gordon Hayward joined them in Monday’s practice after being sidelined with a hip flexor injury that has kept him out of action for five games. The third-year product from Butler is averaging 17.1 points per game and actually upped that over his previous ten contests with a 19.8 average.
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The Jazz are a lousy team and headed for the lottery at season’s end. They looked clueless on Saturday night and were dominated in all aspects of the game. That being said they are a young group and were playing their third road game in four nights. It appears the tank was empty before they even left for the trip.
Minnesota on the other hand was ready after getting embarrassed at home on Wednesday night as 9 ½ point home chalk in NBA odds against a Sacramento team that is among the worst in the league. They then traveled two nights later to Toronto and got bested 94-89 as one-point underdogs to the Raptors. No doubt they were looking for some home cooking in their last game when they cooked up a big effort against Minnesota.
However, it appears Gordon Hayward will be back in uniform for Utah tonight and reports are that he was moving effortlessly in Monday’s practice. The key to Minnesota’s game is to score, score and score some more yet they have been held to under 100 points in three of their four contests. The Jazz own the Wolves at home and it appears to me that Utah has a good shot at keeping their recent pattern of wins and losses alive with a big effort tonight for our NBA picks.
NBA Picks: Utah Jazz +3 ½ at Bet365.com in your NBA odds.