The Cleveland Cavaliers had an easy Friday night against Sacramento. The Minnesota Timberwolves couldn’t even beat Philadelphia. Expect the NBA odds to be on Cleveland’s side this Saturday.
Jason’s record as of Jan. 29: 27-27-3 ATS, 2-4 Totals
One of these days, we’ll get to see how good the Minnesota Timberwolves really are. But it doesn’t look like Saturday (8:00 p.m. ET) will be that day. The Timberwolves have picked up some fresh injuries, they’re coming off a 103-94 loss to the awful Philadelphia 76ers (+4 at home), and they’ve got a date with LeBron James and the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers. Sorry about your damn luck.
If that weren’t disheartening enough for the Wolves, wait until they see some of the footage from Cleveland’s 101-90 dismantling of the Sacramento Kings (+10 away). The Cavaliers were firing on all cylinders, going up by 17 points late before the Kings threatened the matador cover against Cleveland’s reserves. That’s nine wins in a row for the Cavs at 8-1 ATS. Will they make it 10 straight at Minnesota’s expense? And will the NBA odds be available by the time you read this?
The oddsmakers are understandably waiting to see how James (26.2 PER) is feeling after playing Friday night – he was doubtful with a sore wrist that forced him to miss Wednesday’s 99-94 win over the Portland Trail Blazers (+2.5 away). No sweat: Kyrie Irving (21.1 PER) picked up the slack with 55 points against Portland. James didn’t appear too limited against the Kings, putting up 19 points with seven assists and four steals.
Building that comfortable lead against Sacramento allowed the Cavaliers to give their reserves some run. We even saw a couple of King James’ court jesters, Mike Miller (5.6 PER) and James Jones (11.6 PER), get some burn. Despite the recent trades for Timofey Mozgov (16.9 PER), J.R. Smith (12.2 PER) and Iman Shumpert (10.4 PER), Cleveland still doesn’t have the deepest bench in the league, so every minute that Miller and Jones can soak up is valuable.
Meanwhile, Minnesota’s injury woes aren’t getting those basketball odds published any more quickly. Mo Williams (14.1 PER) has missed the past two games with a sore hip; Zach LaVine (9.7 PER) ended up back in the starting lineup, but he sprained his left ankle during the third quarter of Friday’s game. Fortunately for the Wolves, LaVine was able to return, although his status for Saturday’s matchup isn’t known as we go to press.
With Ricky Rubio (16.0 PER) still on the shelf for the weekend – he could return as soon as Monday – the Timberwolves may be down to their last point guard: Lorenzo Brown (9.0 PER lifetime), who signed a 10-day contract on Tuesday. Brown was a second-round pick for Minnesota in 2013 out of North Carolina State, but didn’t make the cut and found himself bouncing back and forth between the Sixers and their D-League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers.
After getting in 26 NBA games last year with Philadelphia, Brown was signed by the Detroit Pistons this offseason, only to be let go in October without seeing any action. And so we come full circle; Brown has played 47 minutes combined in Minnesota’s last two games, with 15 points and six assists for his original employers. Not exactly the stuff of legends.
It’s a shame the Wolves can’t seem to stay healthy. They’ve got Nikola Pekovic (15.2 PER) and Kevin Martin (20.8 PER) back in the lineup now, and Andrew Wiggins (12.6 PER) is looking more and more like a premium blue-chipper with every passing game. But without Rubio at the 1-spot, or even Williams, the offensive flow just isn’t there. Not like it is for the Cavaliers, that’s for sure. We’re happy to recommend putting the Cavs in your NBA picks for Saturday, and may the sphere be with you.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Cavaliers