The biggest mismatch on the board in Monday's NBA action, with the Wolves having the worst record in the NBA. The Thunder are the biggest favorites at -15.5 with a total of 206.
Wolves Still Banged Up
Minnesota (7-36) has lost four straight and has a one-game "lead" for the NBA's worst record and thus the most ping-pong balls in May's draft lottery. I actually don't believe this is the worst team in the NBA, it's just that the Wolves have been so crippled by injury. Starting point guard Ricky Rubio hasn't played since early November because of ankle issues and he's not close to coming back. Starting shooting guard Kevin Martin hasn't played since Nov. 19 due to a fractured wrist but is very close to coming back, maybe even in this game. Starting center Nikola Pekovic just recently returned from his own long injury absence.
Really there are some solid pieces here to build around Andrew Wiggins (and the 2015 high draft pick), who is the clear Rookie of the Year betting favorite at sportsbooks. Wiggins is averaging 15.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. This month he's averaging 19.5 points and 5.2 rebounds. I believe the Cavaliers will regret dealing Wiggins for Kevin Love sooner rather than later; although the other key piece of that deal, 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, continues to look like a bust. I guarantee you the Wolves would do that Love trade again. Wiggins will be a star.
Minnesota also has two other injury concerns. Second-year player Shabazz Muhammad, who had been a pleasant surprise this season, has been sidelined for the last eight games with a strained oblique and he won't play here. Neither will reserve Robbie Hummel. He left Sunday's 112-100 loss in Atlanta with a broken hand in the third quarter. Hummel will miss 4-6 weeks.
The Timberwolves are 17-25-1 against the NBA betting spread and 23-19-1 'over/under.'
Thunder Back to .500
Oklahoma City has lost two straight, each by 10 points. They were pretty understandable losses, however, coming in Atlanta on Friday and in Cleveland on Sunday. Kevin Durant had 32 points and nine assists against the Cavs and LeBron James. Russell Westbrook had 22 as OKC finished 3-2 on its season-high five-game road trip. The Thunder played the Cavaliers without starting center Steven Adams as he was dealing with migraine headaches. He should be in there for this one, but if not Kendrick Perkins would start again.
This game is likely to have extra meaning for the Thunder (22-22) as you know they don't want to fall back under .500 after completing a long climb to get over the break-even mark -- started 3-12 with Durant and Westbrook hurt -- before that two-game skid. Oklahoma City was one of only nine teams in league history to be nine games under .500 in the first half of the season before climbing to .500 by the midway point of the season.
Oklahoma City is currently 10th in the West and three games behind No. 8 Phoenix. Don't rule out the team possibly trading Reggie Jackson, as he doesn't play much these days after the acquisition of Dion Waiters from the Cavs. Jackson can become a free agent this offseason. He played only 9 minutes, 53 seconds against the Cavaliers, a season low and the least minutes of any Thunder player who got onto the court. Since Waiters’ first game with the team Jan. 7, Jackson has averaged 19.5 minutes.
The Thunder are 20-22-2 against the spread and 17-27 'over/under' on NBA odds.
Maximize your betting ticket for tonight with these cherry picked Free NBA Picks of the Day.
When these teams met in Minneapolis on Dec. 12, the Thunder were 8.5-point favorites on NBA odds (total of 205) and won 111-92. Westbrook led the Thunder with 34 points, while Durant had 16. It was the second of a back-to-back for OKC. The Thunder were up 70-49 at halftime. Wiggins and Muhammad each scored 18 points for Minnesota. The Wolves, who have lost 18 of their past 21 games against the Thunder, played without Mo Williams, Rubio, Martin and Pekovic. Oklahoma City has won four straight overall in this series and nine in a row at home.
NBA Free Picks: Minnesota +15.5 points and the 'over' 206 points is our NBA pick. The Wolves have covered five straight road games vs. teams with a winning home record. The Thunder are 0-6 ATS in their past six Monday games. The 'over' is 7-1 in the past eight meetings.