NBA Betting: Bet On The Minnesota Timberwolves, Fade the Philadelphia 76ers
On account of Thanksgiving weekend, this week’s NBA slate is an unbalanced one. With no games on Thursday, we’ve got big cards on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Let’s take a look at a couple teams who have to navigate this somewhat tricky week of action, including one who deserves consideration to play on, and one to think of perhaps fading.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Bet On
The Timberwolves have fallen to 8-8 SU and 7-8-1 ATS after starting the season 3-0 SU and 2-0-1 ATS. Minnesota’s solid start was somewhat derailed in Philadelphia, when Karl-Anthony Towns was ejected for an altercation with Joel Embiid in a 117-95 defeat. Towns was suspended for two games, and although the Wolves won the first of those games, 131-109, they were then dismantled in a home loss to Milwaukee, 134-106. Towns was decent in his return to the lineup, but the team gave up a worrying 137 points in Memphis in a 16-point defeat. Since then, the Wolves have been streaky, winning three of four, before losing four of their last five games. After a two-game home stand that brought losses to both the Jazz and the Suns, Minnesota takes to the road to play Atlanta and San Antonio, on Monday and Wednesday of this week. It is here where an opportunity presents itself.
Firstly, from a matchup perspective, both of these road games look to be good ones for Minnesota in general, and its superstar, Karl-Anthony Towns, in particular. Neither team appears to have anyone who can hope to guard Towns, who is averaging 26.4 PPG, 12.4 RPG, and 3.6 APG, to go along with 1.2 steals and 1.5 blocks. Towns is shooting 52% from the field and 45% from beyond-the-arc, and his ability to space the floor will create massive problems for the front lines of both the Hawks and Spurs.
Secondly, one reasonable explanation for Minnesota’s recent dip in form is that the much-improved Andrew Wiggins missed three of the team’s last five games, two of which were losses to Washington and Houston. Wiggins has emerged as a legitimate scoring threat, averaging 25.2 PPG. His field goal percentage of 46.9% has risen dramatically from 41.2% last season, and has also shown more ability to provide secondary playmaking. Wiggins has been just okay in the last two games, but looks to have found his footing after his three-game absence, and should provide a boost on both ends of the floor, particularly against these two struggling teams.
Minnesota have a net rating of -1.6, good for 18th in the NBA. Over the last five games, the team has been substantially worse, posting a net rating of -8.6. Fortunately for them, the Timberwolves face the Hawks and Spurs, who have net ratings of –20.5 and -4.6, respectively, over that span. Atlanta have lost six straight and San Antonio have lost eight of nine, with its only win coming against the lowly New York Knicks. These two games are followed by a home matchup against the struggling Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis has lost three straight games, and will have to go to Minnesota after what will likely be two physical encounters against the Clippers and Jazz. Memphis have a net rating of -6.2 over the last five games, and for the year, come in at -8.0, third-worst in the entire league. While Jaren Jackson Jr. could provide some resistance to Towns, anytime Minnesota’s star big man can matchup with Jonas Valanciunas, it will be unfair. This is a real opportunity for the Timberwolves to get their season back on track.
Philadelphia 76ers: Fade
It’s been a real up-and-down season for Philadelphia, who started the year 5-0 SU and 3-1-1 ATS. The 76ers followed that up with a brutal stretch, going 2-4 SU and 1-5-1 ATS. Philadelphia also had to deal with a two-game suspension to its star big man, Joel Embiid, on account of the fight with Karl-Anthony Towns. In addition, Philadelphia had to overcome the loss of Ben Simmons to a shoulder injury, while managing Al Horford’s workload. Despite Josh Richardson missing two of the last four games, Philadelphia has regrouped, winning all four. Three of those games were at home, however, and the only road game came against Cleveland. Home wins against the Knicks and Spurs, in addition to beating a Miami team in town on the second night of a back-to-back, can hardly count as high-quality wins.
The biggest issue for Philadelphia has been its inability to perform on the road. The 76ers are a perfect 7-0 SU on the road, and 4-5 on their travels. This week sees Philadelphia play four games in six days, including road matchups against Toronto and New York. While there should be an element of revenge for the 76ers as they go to face the Raptors, who beat them in a tough seven-game playoff series last season, it remains a tough spot for them. The Raptors are 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS. Toronto has a fantastic net rating of +13.4 at home, compared with Philadelphia’s net rating on the road of -0.7. Despite that, Philadelphia are listed as two-point favorites at Toronto tonight. Toronto is dealing with injuries to Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, which might be impacting this line, but it still feels in keeping with this entire season, one in which the public perception of Toronto had collapsed with the departure of Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers, and as such, the Raptors may still be decent value in this spot.
Following the game against the Raptors, Philadelphia have a home game against a Sacramento Kings team playing excellent basketball. The Kings have won five of seven and have stabilized after a disastrous 0-5 start. Then, it’s a road game against the Knicks, which of course is very winnable, but it’s important to note that New York did hang with Philadelphia in a recent 109-104 76ers home win. Philadelphia needed a 35-point fourth quarter to get the comeback win. The week of action ends with the second game of a back-to-back, at home to Indiana. It’s important to monitor how Head Coach Brett Brown handles this spot. Joel Embiid did recently buck the trend, by playing both games of a back-to-back last week, but the uncertainty remains. Philadelphia still have serious depth issues, and have to look after both Embiid and veteran Al Horford in particular. A heavy slate could be tough for Philadelphia this week.