NBA Picks Timberwolves vs. Thunder

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 1:34 PM GMT

Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 1:34 PM GMT

This Western Conference clash should draw interest from those perusing the NBA to make their sports picks. Oklahoma City is proving to be one the best teams in the league, now according to commissioner Adam Silver, while Minnesota wallows in mediocrity, much to their own doing. Do the Timberwolves elevate their play or is the Thunder’s balance and Kevin Durant too much for them?

Minnesota Simply Not Doing the Job

The T-Wolves are presently out of the playoff picture and are underachieving. How can I make such a statement, simple, you can look it up.

Minnesota has a points scored/points allowed differential of +4.4 per game, which is fifth in the Western Conference. This figure is better than four teams which are ahead of them in the standings like Houston (+3.6), Phoenix (+3.4), Dallas (+1.7) and Memphis (+0.5).

Forwards Kevin Love might have a Taco Bell commercial, but his team will not be in any ESPN commercials for “clutch”. NBA basketball handicappers are readily aware the Timberwolves are a ghastly 0-12 in games decided by four points or less (3-9 ATS). This is as chilling as a Stephen King book, but there are explainable reasons as to why.

Let’s start with the T-Wolves offense which is third in scoring at 106 points a game. Certainly impressive figures until you realize how they achieve this.

Minnesota averages the most field goal attempts per game at 88.3 per contest and their basic field goal percentage is just 43.7 percent, which places them at 25th overall. Compare these numbers to the L.A. Clippers who are second in scoring in the NBA at 106.1 PPG, yet they accomplish this on 6.6 fewer shots per game.

A good portion of this problem can be traced to the backcourt court where the three guards who garner the most minutes from those positions are all below the team’s field goal percentage. Starters Kevin Martin (43%) and Ricky Rubio (35.4%) fail to help the team enough and backup J.J. Barea, while often an energy boost, shoots just 40.3%.

Another contributor is head coach Rick Adelman who has been essentially been sitting in the first spot on the bench since taking over the Portland job during the 1988-89 season. Though he has over 1,000 coaching victories, his teams do not play with the efficiency needed, leading to why Minnesota is floundering.

Rolling Thunder (Oklahoma City-Style)


After dispatching of Memphis on Monday night 86-77 as eight-point home favorites, Oklahoma City is 11-1 and 10-2 ATS since Jan. 16 and at this moment is the best team in the Association, no matter what the records say.

For the past few years, the Thunder were looked upon as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s team, but with the injuries to Westbrook the past two seasons, Durant is large and in charge of the Thunder. His recent string of 30+ point’s games was incredible and even caused more than one NBA writer to wonder if Oklahoma City should trade Westbrook and add another component to the team.

The futures betting odds have the Thunder as the favorite in the West and deservedly so. Opposing teams are starting to try and force the ball out of Durant’s hands by doubling him on pick and rolls, but for the former Longhorn has been exquisite is finding cutters to the basket and his assists are rising like the snow totals over the northern half of the United States.

For this matchup, do not think of the Thunder as just an offensive juggernaut because of Durant, OKC is sixth in points allowed at 97.4 per contest and more importantly, they are second only to Indiana in field goal percentage defense (42.8%) and in the Top 6 of almost every important defensive metric.

Betting Odds

The sportsbooks released Oklahoma City as 8.5-point home favorites, with a total of 208.5. This would appear to favor the home team who is 12-4 ATS having won four of five.

Scheduling

Minnesota played the L.A. Lakers last night to reach .500 and travels to New Orleans on Friday after this contest. The T-Wolves will then have three home games before the All-Star break against three teams ahead of them in the standings, Portland, Houston and Denver.

After tonight, Oklahoma City will have a day off between each of their remaining contests before the break. The Thunder will be on the road for three of the four contests and certainly be favored at Orlando and against the Lakers, with the Trail Blazers tilt to be determined. OKC will be favored at home against New York.

Head to Head Meetings

For those making NBA picks, the SU winner is on a 7-0 ATS streak. Oklahoma City has won the last two of the trio of meetings this season and is has won 8-0 straight at home with five covers.

The Choice

Not an overwhelming choice, yet you have to like the way Oklahoma City is playing and no point getting off them until they cool off.

NBA Free Pick – Oklahoma City minus the points

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