NBA Picks: Rubio's a Game Changer for Tonight's Timberwolves vs. Jazz

Steven Suarez

Monday, March 23, 2015 2:00 PM GMT

The Jazz have been surging to close out the season, while the Timberwolves are limping to the finish line. Who should we backing with our NBA picks?

Odds Overview
If this was earlier in the season, we would have had to take a step back when seeing this line. However, Utah has really elevated their play, which is why they find themselves favored by 11 points at home against the Timberwolves.

Given how dominant the Jazz have been defensively, a low O/U of 185.5 on the posted NBA odds makes sense here, though we don't see much of an edge in either the OVER or UNDER.

 

Utah Jazz
The Jazz have dropped two of three, but those losses came to Golden State and Washington, so we'll forgive them there. Other than those setbacks, Utah has looked excellent, improving to 31-38 after a 17-33 start, thanks in large part to a stifling defense that hasn't been taking any prisoners.

That wasn't really the case in the Jazz's recent road loss to the Warriors though. They weren't able to get much going in the 106-91 loss, shooting 43.8 percent from the floor and committing 15 turnovers. Derrick Favors came up big with 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Rodney Hoot hit 9-of-14 shots for 19 points, but overall Utah struggled to find a groove. Gordon Hayward was just 3-of-13 for 11 points and Rudy Gobert missed all five of his shots and was neutralized by Andrew Bogut and company.

Despite that setback against one of the best teams in the NBA, it's hard not to be impressed with the tenacity we've seen out of Utah. Letting Enes Kanter move on has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as Favors has taken on more responsbility and Gobert has become one of the most dominant big men in the league, at least defensively. He's been protecting the rim like a monster, and it's scary to think that he's only going to develop further.

 

Minnesota Timberwolves
The tank is real. The Timberwolves are dealing with a lot of banged up guys right now, and that's played a part in their recent struggles. They've lost seven of their last eight games and are 4-14 over their last 18 games overall. Minnesota is 15-54 overall, which is good for the worst record in the Western Conference.

The Timberwolves were last in action last night in a 109-98 loss to Charlotte on the road. Seven different guys scored in double figures for Minnesota but it still wasn't enough, as they allowed the Hornets to shoot 50.6 percent from the field overall.

What's more, the injury report is looking rather laughable right now, as Ricky Rubio, Kevin Garnett, Justin Hamilton and Anthony Bennett all sat out last night. It remains to be seen if any of those guys are going to be able to return, but the most important is Rubio of course. He's been a game-time decision over the last couple weeks but has only featured once, but there's a chance he'll be able to suit up against Utah tonight and that would be a nice boost.

Monday's Top NBA Picks O/U include Grizzlies/Knicks

NBA Pick
This may scare some of you, but we like Minnesota to make a game of it tonight.

This is, of course, assuming that the Timberwolves will have Rubio available, as he's a difference maker that changes everything for that team. Rubio is a great court leader and has vision surpassed by nobody, so downgrading to Zach LaVine as the starter (if Rubio can't go) as the starter would change our minds here.

Therefore, assuming Rubio is able to suit up, we like the value on Minnesota to avoid a blowout. It should be a relatively low-scoring game and we look for the Timberwolves to hold their own for our NBA picks.

NBA Pick: Minnesota Timberwolves +11.5 at Pinnacle

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