Surging Timberwolves Will Keep Pedal to the Metal vs. Knicks

wolves knicks

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, January 11, 2018 7:08 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 7:08 PM UTC

The Minnesota Timberwolves are the hottest team in the Western Conference as they welcome the struggling Knicks for their only visit to the Twin Cities this season Friday.

New York Knicks at Minnesota TimberwolvesFree NBA Pick: TimberwolvesBest Line Offered: BetOnline

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3264089, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,999991,19,169,238], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

It’s an 8 p.m. ET tipoff Friday in New York’s only visit of the season to Minneapolis. It’s also the first meeting of the season between the teams, with Minnesota headed to Madison Square Garden on March 23.

The Knicks have enjoyed the Target Center in recent years as they have won five of their past six there. In 2016-17, it was 106-104 as Carmelo Anthony hit the game-winning jumper with 2.3 seconds remaining. Of course, Melo is now off struggling with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kristaps Porzingis scored 29 points for New York. Karl-Anthony Towns exploded for a career-high 47 points and added 18 rebounds in the loss.

That’s really the individual matchup to watch here: The Unicorn vs. KAT, two of the NBA’s most-skilled and versatile big men.

New York is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings.

[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "

Over the last ten games, the Minnesota Timberwolves have the second-best offense, the third-best defense and the best net rating in the NBA.

Looks like it's finally working.

— Duncan Smith (@DuncanSmithNBA) January 11, 2018
\n"}[/]

Knicks Could Be Drained

Even though the Knicks (19-22 SU, 22-19 ATS) had Thursday off, they could have some heavy legs for their one-game road trip as they were dragged to double overtime Wednesday night at home in a 122-119 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Porzingis had 24 points, six rebounds and four blocks but played 44 minutes – of course, he recently complained about being tired. Shooting guard Courtney Lee (16 minutes) played 45. Point guard Jarrett Jack 40. He had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his first triple-double in six years but also a crucial turnover in double OT. Michael Beasley had 26 points and 12 rebounds after missing the previous game with an ankle injury and played a season-high 39 minutes.

It’s possible, though, the Knicks – who have lost eight of 10 -- get a reinforcement here in big offseason free-agent acquisition Tim Hardaway Jr. He hasn’t played since Nov. 29 with a leg injury but scrimmaged with the Knicks for a second straight practice Thursday. His status should be decided at the Friday morning shootaround. Hardaway Jr. is averaging 17.8 points and 4.2 rebounds. Surely his minutes would be limited regardless at first.

Right now, the Timberwolves (27-16 SU, 20-21-2 ATS) look like the West’s second-best team behind Golden State. They have won three straight in blowout fashion. Minnesota embarrassed the visiting Cavaliers by 28 on Monday and then drubbed the Thunder by 16 on Wednesday. Jimmy Butler continues to play like an MVP candidate as he had 26 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and four blocks vs. OKC. In his past 10, Butler is putting up 24.8 points, 6.9 assists and 5.0 rebounds while playing great defense.

[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "

Jimmy Butler can get buckets AND save lives!

That deserves an #NBAVOTE! pic.twitter.com/GXSbW8hC1K

— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 11, 2018
\n"}[/]

Wednesday also saw the return of starting point guard Jeff Teague from a knee injury. He had missed seven games (Wolves were 4-3). Teague had eight points in 26 minutes. Tyus Jones went back to the bench. The Wolves have a nice 16-6 home record and have won their past six there yet are just 3-5 against the East at the Target Center. No explanation for that.

It’s pretty simple for Minnesota: It needs to shoot a better percentage from the field than its opponent. The Timberwolves are 20-1 when they do so (or are even). They also need to lead after three as they are 3-9 when trailing entering the fourth.

We’ll ride the hot horse here on NBA picks as the Wolves cover their fifth straight at home.

comment here