NBA Picks: Back Tempting Timberwolves Plus Odds vs. Pelicans

Jason Lake

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 12:07 PM GMT

Two disappointing teams will square off Tuesday night when the New Orleans Pelicans host the Minnesota Timberwolves. The NBA odds say the Pellies are the better side. Are they?

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NBA Pick: Minnesota +5
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

 

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Jan. 18: 14-15-1 ATS, 5-1-1 Total

 

East is East, and West is West, and... ah, forget it, Rudyard. You haven't been watching the NBA lately, have you? Everything's backward in Bizarro World; there are only four teams in the Western Conference with positive point differentials at the halfway point of the 2015-16 regular season, and 10 in the East. We are indeed through the looking-glass here, people.

I think that about covers all the standard clichés. Thanks to the relative weakness of the Western middle class, the New Orleans Pelicans (13-27 SU, 16-24 ATS) and Minnesota Timberwolves (13-29 SU, 17-24-1 ATS) are still within shouting distance of a playoff spot. They'll meet Tuesday night at the Squishee King Center, where the Pellies are laying five points on the NBA odds board as we go to press. There's also a total of 203 points up on the board if you're so inclined.

 

The Good in Everyone
We had the opportunity to look at the Timberwolves recently, and it wasn't a pretty sight. But the Wolves did cover the spread in their 107-104 loss to the Houston Rockets (–8 at home), and they did go OVER 207 on the closing line to make our hopes and dreams come true. These Wolves have a way of showing up against good teams – on offense, at least.

We can't exactly use the term “good” when we're talking about the Pelicans. Going into Monday's action, Basketball-Reference had New Orleans valued at –3.42 on the Simple Rating System, barely ahead of Minnesota at –3.54 SRS. But then the Pellies went into Memphis and dropped a tough 101-99 decision to the Grizzlies (–4.5 away) on MLK Day. That was more like the team we saw last year. Hmmmm.

 

Norris Division
Perhaps we can use the same logic we used in that Wolves-Rockets game to take the OVER in Tuesday's matchup (8:00 p.m. ET, NBA-TV). The Pelicans are one of the worst defensive teams in the league this year at No. 27 overall, allowing 106.2 points per 100 possessions. They also run a fairly brisk pace on offense at No. 11 overall (98.7 possessions per game). But these are not the run-and-gun Rockets by any means; New Orleans is only No. 18 in offensive efficiency (101.8), and the UNDER is 24-16 this year.

On top of that, the Pellies could be without guard Tyreke Evans (18.5 PER, +2.3 BPM) on Tuesday. He sat out Monday's game with a sore right knee that's been causing him trouble. It could have been a maintenance day on the front end of back-to-back games, or perhaps Norris Cole (7.6 PER, –5.4 BPM) will get another start while Evans sits this one out, too. There's no indication either way as we go to press. Combine that, plus Minnesota taking Monday off, and we'll add the Wolves to our NBA picks this time – for a suitably small bet.