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Timberwolves over Jazz one of strangest season sweeps in NBA history

The Timberwolves beat the Jazz in their second game of the season. The Timberwolves beat the Jazz again Saturday. Then, the Timberwolves beat the Jazz yet again yesterday.

“You just feel dumb,” Utah center Rudy Gobert said.

Gobert was specifically referring to his defensive blunder that ceded D'Angelo Russell‘s game-winner yesterday. But it’s easy to wonder whether Gobert was at least influenced by getting swept in the season series by such a lousy team.

The Jazz are 44-14 against non-Minnesota teams. Even counting those three losses, Utah has the NBA’s best record.

The Timberwolves, on the other hand, are in the basement. Despite going 3-0 against the Jazz, Minnesota is 15-44 against everyone else.

This is one of the most unlikely season sweeps in NBA history.

By overall winning percentage, the Timberwolves trail the Jazz by 43 percent points. The previous high deficit for a series sweep of at least three games? “Just” the 30 percentage points the Warriors (42-40) trailed the Mavericks (67-15) by in 2007. (That regular-season sweep proved prophetic.)

Here are the season sweeps where the sweeping team’s record trails the swept team’s record by the most (minimum: three games). The left side of each bar represents the sweeping team’s season win percentage (record on left). The right side of each bar represents the swept team’s winning percentage (record on right):

Even if dropping the games minimum, Minnesota over Utah would be eclipsed by just three two-game season sweeps:

  • 2019: Suns (19-63) over Bucks (60-22)
  • 2002: Bulls (21-61) over Lakers (58-24)
  • 1992: Timberwolves (15-67) over Celtics (51-31)

To be fair, Timberwolves have been playing better with Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell healthy – as they were for all three games against the Jazz. Donovan Mitchell is out for Utah.

But the Jazz were still double-digit favorites for these last two games. Utah is far superior to Minnesota on balance.

Even if it doesn’t look that way when these teams match up.

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