Can Minnesota Timberwolves outplay the Utah Jazz this season?

Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves split the four-game series with the Utah Jazz over the course of the 2022-23 NBA season, a result that should not have happened. The Minnesota Timberwolves had just traded a lot of value with the Utah Jazz to acquire All-Star center Rudy Gobert. To do so, the Timberwolves surrendered five players and four first-round picks. Some value that could immediately help the Jazz, but most of the value was delayed into future NBA Drafts.

The Timberwolves were in ‘win-now,’ mode, while the Jazz were completely content to defer winning to some future season and optimize their 2023 NBA Draft position by losing games.

And yet, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Utah Jazz split their four-game series by winning two games apiece.

  • Date         Opponent        Final Score        W/L?
  • Oct 21      Jazz                   132-126              L
  • Dec 9        @ Jazz              118-108             W
  • Jan 16       Jazz                   126-125              L
  • Feb 8        @ Jazz              143-118              W

While this is just four of the 82 games played by the Minnesota Timberwolves, it places the challenges of the Timberwolves struggles last season on full display. The Minnesota Timberwolves lost both home games at Target Center to a team that finished the season with a record of 37-45.  And that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Timberwolves have to play far more consistently this season

The Timberwolves struggled mightily to defeat NBA teams that struggled to win games. In some games, it was the inability of the Timberwolves to offer up any measurable amount of defensive effort to shut down the opponent’s top scorers. In other games, it was the lack of firepower coming into the game off the Timberwolves bench. In still other games, it was the lack of perimeter shooting that led to the Timberwolves’ unexpected collapse at the hands of a lesser foe.

The Utah Jazz are merely a placeholder in this head-to-head comparison. After the two teams traded twice last season, the Jazz will continue to be tied to the Timberwolves fortunes for the next six NBA seasons. But we could just as easily have cited the Portland Trail Blazers 3-1 advantage of the Minnesota Timberwolves last season. Or we might have cited the Timberwolves losing both games to the Detroit Pistons.

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