Timberwolves vs Mavericks – NBA Pick for March 30th
A couple of months ago, the Timberwolves looked like a team that would be battling for home-court advantage once the playoffs rolled around. Now, though, they’re just battling to get into the playoffs at all. Entering play Friday, the Wolves are 7th in the conference, just a game and a half ahead of the Clippers, who sit 9th. Minnesota is also just a half-game ahead of the Jazz, who are in 8th.
The Wolves need to win at all costs. Being without Jimmy Butler has hurt them quite a bit, especially on the defensive end. Tom Thibodeau’s team hasn’t been great defensively, even with Butler, but they’ve completely fallen off the face of the planet on that end of the floor without him. Considering Butler isn’t expected back for another few weeks, they’ll have to find a way to survive.
The Timberwolves have had a pretty easy run of games lately, though they haven’t been able to take full advantage. Tonight’s game in Dallas will be the team’s third straight against a tanking club. They lost to the awful Grizzlies 2 games ago and followed that up by beating the Hawks last time out.
They can thank Karl-Anthony Towns for the win over Atlanta. Towns exploded that night for a team-record 56 points on 19-32 shooting from the field in the victory. He also grabbed 15 rebounds for good measure. The Hawks have been getting bludgeoned by opposing big men all season long, as have the Mavericks. It’ll be interesting to see what KAT has in store for an encore tonight. In the 3 previous meetings against Dallas this season, Towns has averaged 24.7 points and 11.7 rebounds per game.
It’s also fair to wonder whether fatigue is starting to set in for this team. Thibodeau has been riding his starters hard, and Jeff Teague even recently said that he’s feeling a little banged up due to logging such heavy minutes. Teague’s comments seem to have hit home with Thibs, though, as the point guard played just 30 in the last game. Jamal Crawford and Tyus Jones each played over 20 minutes as reserves.
As for Dallas, we know winnings games isn’t in their long-term interests at this point in the season. Team owner Mark Cuban was even handed a hefty fine after straight-up telling the media that his team is in tank mode. That said, Rick Carlisle isn’t the kind of coach that will be complacent with losing games intentionally. The Mavs have gone 3-7 over their last 10 games, which is actually somewhat admirable considering what some of the other tanking squads have been doing of late. Of course, those 3 wins came over fellow tankers in the Kings, Knicks and Grizzlies.
Dallas is also a little “banged up,” though they’re expected to have most of their guys available. Wesley Matthews is out for the season, while J.J. Barea is listed as questionable due to personal reasons. Dirk Nowitzki (knee) and Dwight Powell (knee) are both currently probable.
While they’re tanking, the Mavs are using the season’s latter stages to also get a look at some of their young players. Rookie Dennis Smith Jr. is obviously the crown jewel of the current rebuild, and he’s had a solid overall first year in the league. While he’s played well, Carlisle has been restrictive with his minutes lately. DSJ has played just 23 and 22 minutes in the last 2 games, respectively.
Some of that has to do with the fact that the Mavs have a ton of point guards. Yogi Ferrell is logging major run, while the team is also getting a look at Aaron Harrison, who recently inked a 10-day deal. Kyle Collinsworth has also been playing between 10 and 20 minutes on most nights. Barea’s presence would only muck things up further.
You have one team trying to win, and another trying to lose. That would seem to be an obvious recipe from a betting perspective, but the Wolves haven’t been a particularly safe bet of late. Still, 5 ½ points looks like a low spread considering the obvious talent discrepancy in play here. I don’t trust the Timberwolves as far as I can throw them, but I’m still cautiously optimistic they can get the job done tonight.
I like Minnesota to cover the spread.
$100 Stake Wins......