Pick San Antonio in Tonight's Game Timberwolves vs. Spurs

Jason Lake

Sunday, December 7, 2014 2:46 PM UTC

Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014 2:46 PM UTC

San Antonio won their game Friday night, but they lost Tony Parker to a hamstring injury. With Patty Mills still out, can San Antonio beat the NBA odds Saturday against the Timberwolves?

Jason’s record as of Dec.5: 14-12 ATS, 0-3 Totals

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Tony Parker is on the shelf for the San Antonio Spurs. Parker left Friday’s 107-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies (–1 at home) in the fourth quarter with what’s being called a “mild” strain of his right hamstring. The buzz as we go to press is that Parker is unlikely to suit up for Saturday’s home game (8:30 p.m. ET) versus the Minnesota Timberwolves.

This is old hat for the Spurs; Parker hasn’t played more than 68 regular-season games in any of the past three seasons. But San Antonio (14-5 SU, 9-10 ATS) is already missing back-up point guard Patty Mills. Could this be enough of a problem for the Timberwolves (4-14 SU, 8-10-1 ATS) to take advantage? We’re still waiting for the first lines to hit our NBA odds board, but we expect the Spurs to be huge favorites, with or without Parker.

Canada Fancy
Frankly, it wouldn’t have surprised us if Parker had sat out Saturday’s game anyway. Coach Gregg Popovich has done a very good job of managing minutes for his veteran players, giving Parker (17.3 PER), Tim Duncan (21.4 PER) and Manu Ginobili (17.3 PER) “maintenance days” in back-to-back situations like this one. All three of San Antonio’s Big Three were required Friday night against the red-hot Grizzlies. The Timberwolves? Less so.

Most teams would be fortunate enough to have two above-average point guards on the roster. The Spurs have three. Assuming Parker doesn’t play, and with Mills (18.7 PER last year) out of commission, the next point guard on the depth chart is Cory Joseph (16.0 PER). The Toronto native is in his fourth year in the NBA; he made 19 starts for San Antonio last season, many of those in February while Parker was hobbled by a variety of injuries. The Spurs went 15-4 SU and 11-8 ATS in those 19 games.

Mr. Wiggins
As luck would have it, the last of those 19 starts was against the Wolves, who won 110-91 as 7.5-point home dogs. But that’s not the team we’ll be seeing on Saturday. Kevin Love (26.9 PER last year) won’t be there. Neither will Ricky Rubio (16.0 PER), who’s not expected back from his ankle injury until the holidays. Nikola Pekovic (16.0 PER) and Kevin Martin (21.3 PER) didn’t play in last year’s victory over the Spurs, but they won’t be playing Saturday, either, thanks to their respective wrist injuries.

Minnesota does have a few good players left. It’s a bit early to put Andrew Andrew Wiggins (9.6 PER) in that category, though. His low Player Efficiency Rating doesn’t reflect his true gifts, especially on defense, but Wiggins is shooting just 38.3 percent from 2-point range, compared to 46.2 percent from downtown. He needs some polish.

Definitely Crescent-Fresh
For a lesson on the virtues of patience, Wiggins can turn to yet another fellow Canuck and first-overall draft pick, Anthony Bennett (15.0 PER). He shot a miserable 35.6 percent last year for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but Bennett is already up to 50.5 percent for his new employers. He’s also cut his turnovers in half – insert your own turnover-based joke here – from 2.6 to 1.3 per 36 minutes.

Combine their two No. 1s with Thaddeus Young (12.3 PER) and promising players like Gorgui Dieng (18.6 PER) and Shabazz Muhammad (19.3 PER), and the Timberwolves have enough talent to give teams a scare – teams like the Houston Rockets, who needed overtime to beat Minnesota (+7 at home) 114-112 on Friday. But the Wolves were also the team that gave the Philadelphia 76ers their first victory of the season. We’ll take the Spurs blind in this situation, and may the sphere be with you.

Free NBA Pick: Take the Spurs

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