Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay underdog that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Underdog Value Play for Wednesday.
The youthful underdogs could hold nice betting value Wednesday night when two teams open up their 2014-15 NBA seasons as the Minnesota Timberwolves (0-0, 0-0 away) pay a visit to the Memphis Grizzlies (0-0, 0-0 home) at FedExForum in Memphis, TN at 8:05 ET in a game available on SportSouth.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Minnesota as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +7½ with odds of -106.
Differing Playoff Histories
The Grizzlies have now made the NBA Playoffs in each of the last four seasons and they had Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder on the ropes when leading their first round series 3-2 last season before losing the final two games. Still, Memphis had its second consecutive 50-win regular season as it continued the most successful run in the history of the franchise, with the four-year playoff run being an all-time team high.
Conversely the Timberwolves have not made the playoffs since 2002-03 when Kevin Garnett was in his prime, and although Minnesota won 40 times on the NBA picks last year (40-42), a vast improvement over previous years, it struggled down the stretch and coach Rick Adelman retired as head coach after the season, necessitating a return to the bench for Flip Saunders this season as he begins his second go-around as the Minnesota skipper.
No Love but Nice Youth
The biggest move by the Timberwolves during the off-season though was trading the face of the franchise since the 2008 NBA Draft, Kevin Love, to the Cleveland Cavaliers after he averaged monstrous numbers last season with 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists. That Love trade obviously makes the Cavaliers the favorites to win the Eastern Conference where he joins LeBron James, but what effect does it have on the Timberwolves?
Well, for one thing it does give them a very good youthful core considering they picked up the last two overall number one picks in exchange for him in Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. Those youngsters join a decent nucleus of Nikola Pekovic, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer, and also Love’s departure may actually make Minnesota a better defensive team!
Then again there is really only one direction to go after allowing 104.3 points per game last season to rank 26th in the NBA, but any improvement on that end could make the T-Wolves more competitive than many people think this season and it may all begin by staying inside this point spread tonight.
Do Not Usually Blow Teams Out
Now the Grizzlies may very well notch their third straight 50-win season this year, but everything Memphis does is predicated on its defense, and this is not a team that typically runs up big scores offensively. To wit, the Grizzlies finished third in the NBA in points allowed last season at just 94.6 per game, but they were simultaneously 27th in points scored with only 96.1 per contest.
Also Memphis plays at one of the slowest tempos in the NBA, as the Grizzlies did not change their style of play in their first season under Coach David Joerger last year ranking dead last in the league in Pace Rating after finishing second to last in that category in their final season under former coach Lionel Hollins two years ago.
As a result, the Grizzlies went a dismal 9-19, 32.1 percent ATS when favored by four or more points last season including 5-10 ATS when favored by seven points or more as they are here.
Lost 13 Straight Season Openers!
Finally, in one of those quirky anomalies that probably does not mean much, the Memphis franchise has now lost 13 consecutive season openers going all the way back to when the team was still the Vancouver Grizzlies! Obviously that is just a fluke given the success the Grizzlies have enjoyed in recent years and they could very well end that streak tonight.
However, covering this spread is another matter considering how slow Memphis plays, and we look for the youthful Timberwolves to play with some high energy and cover this spread in the season opener for both teams down south on Wednesday.
NBA Pick: Timberwolves +7½ (-106)