Bet the Timberwolves –1.5 vs. Grizzlies

Jason Lake

Sunday, December 15, 2013 6:04 PM GMT

The rebirth of the Minnesota Timberwolves has run into some complications. Can they beat the NBA odds and the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday?

Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to December 12 inclusive:

22-22 ATS

5-5 Totals

If you’re one of the millions of NBA betting fans who enjoyed watching the Minnesota Timberwolves fail miserably over the past decade, this has been a disappointing year. The Timberwolves (11-12 SU, 12-11 ATS) are no longer the laughingstock of the league; they have a new and credible front office, and a relatively healthy lineup filled with quality players. Should be a great “buy low” opportunity, right?

Well, it would be, except something’s gone wrong. The Wolves are just 3-6 SU and ATS in their last nine games, falling back below .500 in the process. And it all seems to be tied to the recent struggles of their best player. Which brings us to Sunday’s matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies (10-12 SU, 7-14-1 ATS), a team that knows all about the pain of losing your top man. Our NBA betting lines have Memphis getting 2.5 points at home with a total of 196.5.

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Love Machine

The Timberwolves have had access to some high lottery picks in recent years, thanks to nine consecutive seasons outside the playoffs, and four straight years of 24 wins or fewer. Minnesota managed to honk just about all of those picks, too, but things went very, very right in 2008, when the Wolves took O.J. Mayo third overall and flipped him to Memphis in a package deal that landed the fifth overall pick: Kevin Love.

That worked out pretty well. Love (22.5 career PER) was an absolute beast in the paint for the UCLA Bruins, and he carried over that success into the professional ranks, putting up 15.8 points and 12.9 rebounds per 36 minutes as a rookie. Love also played 81 games for the Wolves – a figure he’s yet to approach again, thanks to a troublesome right hand that keeps breaking. Is bubble wrap allowed in the NBA? Imagine the licensing potential.

The Score

Love has stayed relatively healthy this year, and he’s putting up monster numbers for the most part, including a 27.1 PER – that’s MVP quality right there. But Love has also slowed down considerably over the past couple of weeks. In his first 10 games, Love posted a Game Score of less than 20 just twice. In his next 10 games, Love only had three Game Scores above 20. He also missed a game following the death of his grandmother.

Fortunately, there is good news on the Love front. He’s regained his form over the past three games, especially his last outing against the San Antonio Spurs, where Love scored 42 points and canned eight of his nine trey attempts to go along with 14 rebounds. Too bad the Wolves wasted Love’s best game of the season; they lost 117-100, but they did cash in as 8.5-point road dogs on the NBA lines.

Also make sure to check out our Sunday NBA Picks of the Day

Marcotics Anonymous

If this is the kind of Love the Wolves are going to get on Sunday, then the Grizzlies are in big trouble. They’re already in a tough spot without starting center Marc Gasol (20.3 PER). You might recall I recommended fading the Grizz in last week’s matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and that turned out to be the right play, as OKC prevailed 116-100 as a 6-point road chalk.

Memphis followed that up with another loss, falling 104-98 to the New Orleans Pelicans (–2.5 at home). That leaves the Grizzlies at 1-4 SU and ATS in their last five games, and 3-7 SU and ATS since Gasol went down with a sprained MCL. I’m going to keep pushing that button until he returns, or Memphis shows some other signs of life.

NBA Pick: Take the Timberwolves –1.5 at BetDSI