Free NBA Picks: Back Timberwolves & 'Under' Against Injured Bulls Team

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, February 6, 2016 3:26 PM GMT

Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 3:26 PM GMT

The Chicago Bulls figure to have heavy legs when they visit Minnesota on Saturday night. The Wolves are -3 on the NBA odds with a total of 204.

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NBA Picks: Twolves -3 & Under 204
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

Bulls Are Banged Up
Chicago lost in Denver on Friday 115-110, being outscored by 21 in the fourth quarter. The news got much worse as All-Star guard Jimmy Butler suffered a potentially major injury on a awkward fall late in the first half. He was to have an MRI on Saturday morning. The initial report is a hyperextended knee so that would be good news, but it seems there's no way Butler would play here. The Bulls already have lost Joakim Noah for the season. Nikola Mirotic is out through at least the All-Star break with appendicitis and complications, and Pau Gasol missed Friday's game with a left hand sprain and is questionable for this one.

The Bulls have largely disappointed this season under first-year coach Fred Hoiberg as the pieces don't seem to fit his preferred up-tempo offense. Chicago's worst spot has been at small forward as it needs someone who can stretch the floor from that position from 3-point range. Mirotic struggled in that role before his issues. Mirotic was originally to return immediately after the All-Star break but that's not likely happening now. He's averaging 10.6 points a game and shooting 38.6 percent from the field.

But help could arrive Saturday as small forward Mike Dunleavy is likely to make his season debut following offseason back surgery and then a setback in rehab. He had been practicing of late in the D-League before being called up on Wednesday. Last season in 63 games, all as a starter, Dunleavy averaged 9.4 points and 3.9 rebounds. He shot a very solid 40.7 percent from 3-point range. The Bulls are 23rd in the NBA in hitting 7.4 3-pointers per game. Derrick Rose is one of the NBA's worst shooters from out there. So teams can play off him.

The Bulls are 19-30 against the spread on NBA odds and 26-22-1 'over/under.'

 

Timberwolves Did What Vs. Clippers?
Minnesota (15-36) had one of the more unlikely wins of this NBA season on Wednesday night in taking a 108-102 victory at the L.A. Clippers to end a five-game losing streak and in the second night of a back-to-back. The night before, Minnesota had lost at the terrible Lakers. The Clippers had won 14 straight in the series with the Timberwolves. Finally, the Wolves hadn't won on the road since Dec. 20 and hadn't won all season in the second of a back-to-back. They had been 4-29 when allowing at least 100 points.

Minnesota pulled the upset minus three rotation players in guard Kevin Martin, forward Kevin Garnett and center Nikola Pekovic. Garnett, who is more a teacher than player these days, missed his sixth straight game with a sore right knee. Martin, a solid scorer off the bench, also missed his sixth in a row due to a sore wrist. Pekovic, who starts in the middle, was out a second consecutive with a sore foot. It's not likely that any of them go vs. Chicago. Andrew Wiggins, who has passed on a chance to compete in the Dunk Contest on All-Star weekend in his hometown of Toronto, led Minnesota with 31 points vs. the Clippers. Karl-Anthony Towns had 17 points and 12 assists; he has won every Western Conference Rookie of the Month this season. Gorgui Dieng had 12 points and 10 rebounds starting for Pekovic.

The win improved Minnesota to 8-18 on the road but it's just 7-18 at home. Only two teams have fewer home wins and they are the NBA's two worst: Philadelphia and the Lakers. The Timberwolves are 22-28-1 ATS on NBA picks this season and 27-23-1 O/U.

 

Last Meeting
Minnesota was a 9.5-point favorite at sportsbooks (total of 201.5) when it visited the Windy City on Nov. 7 and the Wolves pulled off the 102-93 overtime upset. Chicago didn't score a point in the extra session, missing all nine shots, which is hard to do. So hard that it had never happened in Bulls history before. Wiggins had 31 points and Rookie of the Year lock Towns 17 points and 13 rebounds for Minnesota. Gasol led the Bulls with 21 points and 14 rebounds, but Butler and Derrick Rose each had just 11 points and were a combined 7-for-28 from the field. Minnesota has still lost 10 of the past 12 meetings and has lost six straight at home to Chicago.

 

Final Analysis
The Bulls are in the sixth game of a seven-game trip and the second in 24 hours. They can't have much left in the tank. Plus no Butler and maybe no Gasol. Give the points, go  'under.' Chicago is 1-5 ATS in its past six in the second of a back-to-back. The Wolves are 4-0 ATS in their past four vs. teams with a winning record. The 'under' is 4-1 in the past five meetings. 

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