Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through Jan. 16:
9-7 ATS, 0-1 ML (minus-1.15 units), 11-6 Totals
Friday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Free NBA Pick: Over
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
These are the new Minnesota Timberwolves, ladies and gentlemen. Freed from the bonds of Tom Thibodeau, the Wolves are playing a much different style under interim head coach Ryan Saunders – son of the late Flip Saunders, who had two separate stints coaching in Minnesota and is still a revered figure in town. They’re firing up a lot more 3-pointers now, and the “over” is 3-1 since Saunders fils took over for Thibodeau.
Let’s see if we can grab some of that for our NBA picks. The San Antonio Spurs will be visiting Friday, and they’ve been good to us with the “over” thus far, checking in at 25-20-1 on the season. Both teams will be well-rested, this isn’t a back-to-back situation, and the Wolves’ shooters should be extra-focused playing at home on the Worldwide Leader. The total just hit the NBA odds board at 226 points, which is more than manageable. Life is good.
The Covington Files
No offense to Thibodeau, one of the greatest defensive minds in the game, but this change is for the better – at least with this particular lineup. Saunders has upped the usage rate on both Karl-Anthony Towns (plus-3.1 OBPM, plus-2.4 DBPM) and Andrew Wiggins (minus-1.6 OBPM, minus-1.4 DBPM), and he has taken the shackles off Anthony Tolliver (minus-0.3 OBPM, minus-0.6 DBPM), who’s second on the team at 39.5 percent from downtown.
Saunders’ hand has been forced to some extent. Robert Covington (plus-1.6 OBPM, plus-1.9 DBPM), Minnesota’s second-best defender behind Towns, has a bone bruise in his right ankle and hasn’t played since New Year’s Eve. The “over” is 5-2 since Covington got hurt. And Tyus Jones (minus-1.1 OBPM, minus-0.8 DBPM) sprained his left ankle on Tuesday; he’ll be in a walking boot when the Spurs come to town. That will mean more minutes at point guard for Jeff Teague (minus-0.3 OBPM, minus-2.3 DBPM) and Derrick Rose (plus-3.0 OBPM, minus-2.6 DBPM), which suits our purposes just fine.
Before you unload your wallet and/or purse on this game, we should point out that Pau Gasol (minus-1.1 OBPM, plus-3.3 DBPM) is back in action for the Spurs. Gasol has played six games now, but his minutes have been fairly limited, and San Antonio split the total down the middle at 3-3. Rudy Gay (plus-1.0 OBPM, plus-0.8 DBPM) is also back in the lineup after a five-game absence, so that helps us even more. This should actually be a very entertaining game. Grab a frosty beverage, enjoy the show, and may the sphere be with you.