NBA Picks: Timberwolves Will Cover ATS vs. Struggling Knicks

Jason Lake

Saturday, February 20, 2016 7:03 PM GMT

The New York Knicks just lost in Brooklyn. Now they have to fly out and face the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday night. The NBA odds are with the Wolves.

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NBA Pick: Minnesota -2 
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Feb. 18: 21-25-1 ATS, 5-1-1 Total

Imagine if Ricky Rubio had actually been traded to the New York Knicks. That would have put a very interesting spin on Saturday's game (8:00 p.m. ET, MSG) between the Knicks and Rubio's Minnesota Timberwolves. Instead, the Knicks are heading to Minneapolis with the bitter taste of Friday's 109-98 loss to the Brooklyn Nets (+5 at home) in their mouths. That's seven straight losses SU and ATS for New York.

The Wolves won't be feeling too good themselves after losing 109-104 to the Memphis Grizzlies – and they just missed cashing in as 4.5-point road dogs. The NBA odds board at press time has Minnesota laying two points at home with a total of 204.5. Will either team have the energy to get up and down the court Saturday night at the Tar-Zhay?

 

Born in the Nineties
Maybe the younger, fresher Timberwolves (17-38 SU, 24-30-1 ATS) will have the advantage in this situation. Of the five players who started Friday night in Memphis, the oldest was C/PF Gorgui Dieng (16.8 PER, +2.1 BPM), who just turned 26 last month. Dieng did end up playing 44 minutes against the Grizzlies, but then again, it was Minnesota's first game after the All-Star break.

The Knicks (23-33 SU, 29-27 ATS) have plenty of fresh faces, too, but aside from super-rookie PF Kristaps Porzingis (18.3 PER, +0.7 BPM), they're all coming off the bench. PG Jose Calderon (13.0 PER, +0.5 BPM) is the oldest guy on the team at 34, and while he hasn't played nearly as poorly as advertised, Calderon's only there because the Knicks weren't willing to overpay for Rubio, and rookie PG Jerami Grant (9.3 PER, –4.8 BPM) isn't quite ready for this just yet.

 

The Steve Asmussen School of Player Maintenance
Before I get on a rant about how the NBA is destroying its own product by overworking its players, let's look toward out usual stat-nerd sources for some guidance with their NBA betting algorithms. Nate Silver's crew at FiveThirtyEight have an Elo-based spread of Wolves -3 for Saturday's game; Basketball-Reference has something much closer to the -2 that's already on the board.

We can't take these numbers as gospel, of course, but they do give us the confidence we need to put the Wolves in our NBA picks. Even with the All-Star festivities, it's already been a long and arduous season for everyone involved. New York was doing some very good things early in the season, but SF Carmelo Anthony (20.3 PER, +2.5 BPM) is breaking down again, and he ended up playing 38 minutes against Brooklyn. Knicks head coach Kurt Rambis says Anthony will play every game from here on in. Anthony's left knee might not even make it through Saturday night.