Wolves-Clippers an Enigma Wrapped in a Mystery

wolves clippers

Jason Lake

Monday, January 22, 2018 1:03 PM UTC

Monday, Jan. 22, 2018 1:03 PM UTC

The Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves are going to play Monday night at Staples Center, and, as usual, our NBA pick will depend on who’s in uniform.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles ClippersFree NBA Pick: UnderBest Line Offered: Heritage

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3264311, "sportsbooksIds":[169,1275,1096,238,19], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

Welcome back to the West Coast office. We’re very happy to pounce on these early NBA lines and get you ready for Monday’s action, but once again we have to pump the brakes a bit. The Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves both have important players who may or may not be ready for their 10:30 p.m. Eastern tipoff at Staples Center on NBA-TV: DeAndre Jordan (ankle) for the Clippers, and Jimmy Butler (knee) for the Timberwolves. No lines yet on this matchup as we go to press.

Not a problem. We’ll develop some contingency plans for your NBA picks; keep an eye on Monday’s shootaround/newswires to see who’s likely to play, and at what capacity, then choose the plan that fits the situation. Basketball is still a team sport, and there’s plenty more to both these teams than Jordan and Butler.

Seven Quarters for One Dollar

We’ve been dancing around the Clippers (23-22 SU, 25-19-1 ATS) and their injuries all season long. The through-line heading into the 2017-18 campaign was that Los Angeles should be a value pick after trading Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets for seven players. The Clippers have delivered for the most part – and they’re super-hot right now at 10-3 SU and 9-4 ATS since the holidays, including 3-1 SU and ATS without Jordan (plus-2.0 BPM).

The Wolves (30-18 SU, 23-23-2 ATS) weren’t going to be as easy to pin down. In and of itself, their offseason acquisition of Butler (plus-5.3 BPM) could have drained their betting value. However, Minnesota didn’t give up a lot of short-term talent to acquire Butler from the Chicago Bulls, and they wisely added former Bull Taj Gibson (plus-1.7 BPM) in free agency, giving the Wolves plenty of synergy under head coach Tom Thibodeau – who, of course, had success with Butler and Gibson when they were in Chicago from 2010-2015.

Butler Didn’t Do It

Butler has only missed one game with his sore right knee: Saturday’s 115-109 win over the Toronto Raptors (–1.5 away), which, quite frankly, required a whole lot of dubious officiating. The Wolves put backup PF Nemanja Bjelica (minus-0.6 BPM) in the starting lineup in place of Butler, and sophomore SG Marcus Georges-Hunt (minus-4.0 BPM) played 29 minutes off the bench, shooting 3-for-10. We’d generally be inclined to fade Minnesota if Butler doesn’t play.

There isn’t nearly the same drop-off for the Clippers between Jordan and his replacements. They’ve been going with center Willis Reed (minus-0.7 BPM) in the starting lineup and PF Montrezl Harrell (plus-0.3 BPM) playing extra minutes off the bench. In theory, that makes Los Angeles a good value pick if Jordan doesn’t play, since the betting public will likely overreact to his absence. The ideal situation from a betting perspective is if both Butler and Jordan miss Monday’s game, in which case, feel free to load up on the Clippers. They should still be worth a look if Jordan plays and Butler doesn’t.

If Butler plays, the UNDER could be the right pick regardless of Jordan’s status, with Butler (plus-4.8 OBPM) presumably gimpy for a game or two following his return. Jordan (plus-1.4 BPM) isn’t the same defensive stud he was in years past, but he also isn’t the same black hole on offense (plus-0.6 BPM), so the UNDER might still be good if Jordan plays at less than 100 percent (update: Jordan has been ruled out). Bet accordingly based on availability, and may the sphere be with you.

comment here