NBA Picks: Timberwolves +10.5 To Keep Low Scores Against Cavs

Matthew Jordan

Friday, January 8, 2016 12:59 PM UTC

Friday, Jan. 8, 2016 12:59 PM UTC

What kind of reaction will Kevin Love get when his Cavaliers visit Minnesota for the only time this season on Friday? Wolves fans have to be thrilled he was traded. Check our NBA pick here.

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NBA Free Picks: Timberwolves +10.5 & Under 195
Best Line Offered: at Bet365


Cavaliers Rounding Into Form
There's no doubt that Cleveland has the most talented roster in the Eastern Conference and the Cavaliers (24-9) are starting to really assert themselves as the heavy favorites to reach the NBA Finals again. The roster is finally all healthy at once.

The Cavs won in Washington 121-115 on Wednesday for their fifth straight  victory. And All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving looks to be at full health following knee surgery this summer that delayed his season debut until Dec. 20. Irving was on a minutes restriction for a while and wasn't playing both ends of a back-to-back, but all those shackles appear off. He had a season-high 32 points -- 19 in the fourth quarter, including 10 straight -- against the Wizards to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Irving also played a season-best 34 minutes. LeBron James added 34 points and 10 rebounds.

Coach David Blatt generally gets no credit for anything he does, but four games ago Blatt decided to bring 7-foot center Timofey Mozgov off the bench and start jumping-jack Tristan Thompson in his place. The Cavs haven't lost since.

If there's one concern for this team, it's that Love's production has dropped noticeably since Irving's return. There are only so many shots to go around. Love had eight points and nine rebounds against Washington and didn't play a second in the fourth quarter. He's averaging 11.2 points and 10.4 rebounds in his past five.

Cleveland is 14-18-1 against the spread on NBA odds and 15-18 'over/under.'


Timberwolves More Than Happy With Trade
Minnesota still has to be patting itself on the back for how well that Love trade to Cleveland for Andrew Wiggins before last season has worked out. Of course Wiggins was last season's NBA Rookie of the Year, and he's averaging a team-best 20.1 points along with 3.8 rebounds per game this year. He still has to work on that jumper, but the guy is a future perennial All-Star. Dealing Love also ensured the Wolves would stink last season and they did. But that allowed them to earn the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and they took Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns, who is the clear favorite for this season's Rookie of the Year Award and also looks to be a future All-Star. He's averaging 15.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

The Timberwolves (12-24) are going to add another lottery pick this summer. They started 8-8 but have obviously fallen way off since then. Minnesota enters this one off a 78-74 home loss to Denver, the Wolves' fourth straight loss.  They are one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the NBA. Minnesota makes 4.9 3-pointers per game, last in the NBA. Opponents make 8.7 from long range per game. Denver had eight and Minnesota three.

There were two bright spots from that Denver loss. One was the season debut of center Nikola Pekovic. He had missed 54 straight games dating to last season and had surgery on his right Achilles' tendon on April 8, 2015. Pekovic had 12 points and two rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench. Guard Kevin Martin returned against the Nuggets after missing the previous seven games. He scored nine points in 16 minutes off the bench. Minnesota has made no secret it would like to trade Martin as he's really not a fit any longer. He would be a good fit as a scorer off the bench for a contender. Martin has a player option for next season worth close to $7.4 million.

Minnesota is 14-21-1 ATS on NBA picks and 18-18 O/U.


Last Season
As one would expect since the Cavs were one of the NBA's best teams in 2014-15 and the Timberwolves the league's worst, Cleveland swept. The game in Ohio was a 125-104 Cavs win. That was Love's first game vs. his former team and he had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Irving had 29 points and LeBron 24. Wiggins had 27 to lead the Wolves. In the game in Minneapolis, the Cavaliers won 106-90. LeBron had 36 points, including 13 in a row during a game-closing 23-5 run. Love was booed pretty much all night and had 14 points and 17 rebounds. Wiggins again led Minnesota with 33 points. The Timberwolves played without injured guards Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine. The Timberwolves actually have won five of the past nine meetings overall, but all those wins came while LeBron was in Miami.

Minnesota is a terrible 5-14 at home, but the Wolves will be fired up to play against LeBron and  Love. Plus the Cavs are only 9-8 on the road. Take the points, go 'under.' Cleveland has covered just one of its past 11 road games vs. teams with a losing record. The 'under' is 6-0 in Minnesota's past six at home. 

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