The Minnesota Timberwolves won’t have to wait long to get their first crack at a potential playoff contender when heading on the road on Saturday to take on the Utah Jazz. A 111-101 victory over the Detroit Pistons turned out to be an impressive debut from the new-look Timberwolves. They’ll try their hand at knocking off a Jazz team that dismantled the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
Good debuts for Russell and Edwards
It was refreshing to see the Timberwolves have a jolt of energy coming off their bench in the form of D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards. I’d grown used to seeing the team flat-line from start to finish with a roster that simply wasn’t all that talented.But things have changed.
Russell chipped in 18 points, while Edwards compiled 15 points in the 111-101 victory over the Pistons. Whether that performance carries over against the Jazz remains to be seen. The Jazz are coming off a game where they held star guard Damian Lillard to just nine points in a 120-100 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Edwards might have racked up points, but he wasn’t very efficient with his shooting. The Timberwolves need him to continue to be aggressive against the Jazz and keep attacking the basket.
For all of the talk surrounding Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley appears to be coming into his own as well. He led the team in scoring with 23 points against the Pistons.
Minnesota will need all of the offensive help they can get if they suddenly devolve into the bad defense they had on the floor last season. They were ranked as the third-worst team in scoring defense with teams averaging 117.5 points per game against them. Beating up on the Pistons doesn’t exactly equate to a dance with Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz.
Can the Jazz keep humming their offensive music?
The Jazz really got it going offensively with a healthy Mike Conley back in the lineup against the Trail Blazers. They reminded the world why they were a top-10 3-point shooting team last season by dropping 19 shots from beyond the arc on Wednesday. It was raining 3-pointers, and there was nothing to stop it for Portland.Utah fans will be hoping for another torrential downpour in Saturday’s meeting with the Timberwolves. It’s hard to gage their improvements with their opener coming against a bad Pistons team. They were among the worst defensive teams last season with opponents shooting 47.7 percent. Utah is clearly capable of driving a stake in their heart if they continue to knock down 3-pointers in this meeting.
But everything comes back to the Jazz on defense. They’ll be facing a Timberwolves team that’s still figuring out where all of the puzzle pieces go. It’s also an opportunity to test the rookie, Anthony Edwards, by putting him on the spot against a good basketball team. The Timberwolves were actually ranked 11th in scoring offense last season. That number should only grow with Russell and Edwards in the mix.