MINNEAPOLIS — The Utah Jazz are 2-0.
Yes. You read that correctly.
The Utah Jazz are 2-0 after beating the Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell-led Minnesota Timberwolves, 132-126, in overtime on Friday night.
Huge shots from Malik Beasley, Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley and Lauri Markkanen in the fourth quarter and extra time, paired with the hustle of Jarred Vanderbilt and Conley fouling Gobert for a pivotal swing in the final moments, led to the Jazz gritting out a second straight win.
This team was not built for wins and the players do not care. The Timberwolves led by as many as 17 and the Jazz just kept coming. They are ready to prove everyone wrong.
This Jazz team has none of the bad vibes of last year’s Jazz team and all of the hustle and heart that fans were craving.
Is this level of production sustainable? I’m not sure, to be honest. Teams are going to keep getting better as the season progresses and the Jazz might too, but the front office could make some moves to change the makeup of this team. The Jazz are also going to come up against tougher competition. But right now, that kind of doesn’t matter.
The biggest point that I want to make is that this Jazz team is fun. They are exciting and surprising underdogs that are kind of chaotic, and the chaos is exciting. There is joy to this team that just didn’t exist last season and for as long as it lasts, we should savor it.
Rudy Gobert on the Timberwolves
Some interesting wrinkles to the Minnesota era of Gobert. His screening and rolling abilities open up the floor a ton for Towns and Edwards, so those guys are going to have to be a lot more efficient in order to capitalize on their newly acquired space.
Some of the stuff that the T-Wolves are going to have to work through is going to include learning not to over-help. This was an issue that Conley had a lot in his first year with the Jazz. Trusting that Gobert can clean up if someone gets by an outer defender is not an easy habit to make and can often lead to unnecessary fouls. And it’s made more difficult for a team like the Timberwolves because they aren’t getting a lot of defensive aggressiveness from their perimeter players. Sound familiar?
This also makes things harder when Gobert is not on the floor, which is also something that Jazz fans are familiar with.
Of course, the things that Gobert does well, he really does better than almost anyone, so the Timberwolves need to find a way to make the best of this time.
It feels like after every game, preseason and the two regular season games, I’ve written about the Jazz’s rookie center. Maybe it’s a little bit of shock factor at how well-adjusted he seems after such a short period of time, and maybe once the rest of the league settles into form after the herky-jerky early days of the season he will have a little more trouble, but he has just thoroughly impressed so far.
He’s a rookie and will make rookie mistakes, but he learns from those mistakes in what seems like a matter of seconds and you can’t ask for more from a guy who has played literally two NBA games in his life.