I was in attendance the first time these two teams played one another, and the Wizards took care of business in Washington, 104-100. Kevin Love absolutely crushed the Wiz in that game, and while it’s likely he does it again tonight, I doubt any other of the Wolves have great games. The Wizards are improved defensively this season, and they will try as hard as they can to slow the speed of the game down in Minnesota tonight.
While the Wolves play as fast as any team in the NBA, the Wizards play a much more half court oriented game, and it has led to them being ranked 21st in the NBA in Pace. Love crushed the Wiz in the first half of their first meeting, however he was quieter in the 2nd. If Nene struggles to defend Love again, look for Randy Wittman to make a change, and go with Trevor Booker or even Kevin Seraphin defending Love. Both are much younger and a little lighter on their feet than Nene at age 31.
The under cashed in that last meeting about a month ago, as well as four of the last five times these two teams have played one another. The Wolves are also on an under streak in Minnesota right now. They have cashed the under in five of their last seven home games, and against the East, they are only giving up around 97 points per game. 207 ½ is just a bit too high, so take the under for your NBA pick.
My Pick: ‘Under’ 207 ½
Lakers vs. Jazz
The Lakers are almost without hope for the season, as they are now without another one of their stars, at least for tonight. Pau Gasol has an upper respiratory infection and did not make the trip to Salt Lake City. This has influenced the NBA Odds to make the Jazz a -3 ½ favorite, and without Gasol, the Jazz look like the play.
Jordan Hill is the only credible big man on the Lakers right now, and he alone will be no match for Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter when he is in the game. Both Utah big men should have excellent games tonight, and along with Gordon Hayward should own the Lakers at home.
Jordan Farmar did make his return for the Lakers recently, but he was ineffective in 30 minutes of action. This still puts a hole in the Lakers point guard game, and young Trey Burke should wreck the Lakers, much like every point guard has been doing. Without Gasol as well, the Lakers are going to have no offensive or defensive post presence, and as much as I like people with the name Jordan, Hill gives you almost nothing on offense besides offensive rebounding.
The Lakers are already giving up nearly 107 points per game on the road, and even though the Jazz are not a scoring juggernaut, they could be tonight at home against one of the softest defenses playing right now. Look for the Jazz to take control early against a deflated Lakers team, and grab the win and cover tonight. The Jazz aren’t as bad as their record shows, and they could easily be a borderline playoff team in the Eastern Conference.
My Pick: Jazz -3 ½