Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through Apr. 6:
24-26-1 ATS, 0-4 ML (minus-9.35 units), 33-19 Totals
Oklahoma City (46-33 SU, 40-39 ATS) at Minnesota (36-43 SU, 38-41 ATS)
Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Free NBA Pick: Timberwolves ATS
Recommended Sportsbook: Pinnacle
It’s back to the drawing board for the Minnesota Timberwolves. They broke their 13-year playoff drought last season, winning 47 games for head coach Tom Thibodeau while using a lineup that resembled his somewhat successful run with the Chicago Bulls. Then Jimmy Butler went nuclear, Thibodeau was fired, and here were are, back at Square One.
The Wolves might suck and all, but we’re putting them in our NBA picks for Sunday’s game against the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder. It’s a classic contrarian pick, and it was the right choice in each of their previous three meetings this year – and all four games last season, too. Bless this mess.
Distant Early Warning
This is also a 2:30 p.m. Central matchup, which could make the ‘under’ a viable choice as well, but there aren’t enough supporting angles for us to bother with the total this time. All three of their games this year went ‘over’ the posted total, plus three of four games last year, and the ‘over’ is 23-16 at the Tar-Zhay.
As for the spread, the Thunder opened as 5-point road faves on the NBA odds board, and they’ve already moved to –6 at most locations – which gives us the profit margin we’re looking for. FiveThirtyEight have Oklahoma City projected at –3.5 using their fancy algorithms. The Thunder may be going to the playoffs, and they may have Russell Westbrook (plus-6.4 BPM) and Paul George (plus-5.5 BPM), but they’re also 4-7 SU and ATS over their past 11 games.
41-14 Or Fight
Then again, so are the Timberwolves. No need to empty your wallet and/or purse to bet on Sunday’s game, but the Wolves seem to match up reasonably well against OKC. Specifically, Karl-Anthony Towns (plus-6.7 BPM) matches up well against Steven Adams (plus-3.0 BPM), as well as Adams has performed for the Thunder. The last time they met on March 5, Towns put up 41 points and 14 rebounds as Minnesota (+2 at home) won 131-120.
The Wolves have had some injuries since then, which accounts for the difference in the spread this time. Derrick Rose (minus-0.6 BPM) is out for the year, as is Jeff Teague (minus-2.4 BPM), but Tyus Jones (minus-1.7 BPM) has at least been an improvement over Teague. And while Taj Gibson (plus-1.0 BPM) might not play Sunday because of a calf injury, big man Gorgui Dieng (plus-0.6 BPM) has had an opportunity to reclaim his role as a valuable defensive stopper, while Dario Saric (minus-0.2 BPM) steps into the starting lineup. Now, if they can only do something about Andrew Wiggins (minus-3.2 BPM) this offseason, maybe it won’t be another dozen years before they make the playoffs again.