Dallas at Minnesota
Time: 7 PM (CT), NBA League Pass
Spread: MIN -12.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Minnesota Timberwolves have won its past three games to improve to 5-3 on the young season. Minnesota now hosts the struggling Dallas Mavericks as 12.5-point favorites in NBA action on NBA League Pass Saturday night.
The over/under is set at a gratuitous 212.5 points, a reflection of Minnesota’s high-powered offense, which totals 113 points per game while holding opponents to 108.8 points per night.
Minnesota for its part is coming together in this season. Jimmy Butler has assumed a new role as a third-option, with young guns Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins leading the team in scoring. Butler is averaging 17.3 points per game, 5.2 rebounds and four assists, while Towns and Wiggins combine for another 40.9 points per game.
Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford round out the double-figure scorers, good for 13 and 10 points each, respectively. The Wolves have a new-found sense of depth on its roster, particularly in the frontcourt, where it has rotated Taj Gibson and Gorgui Dieng at the 4-spot quite effectively. Gibson is a high-impact role player and his impact goes far beyond his 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, as he also brings a high energy presence and plenty of defense, despite being undersized for his position.
The Wolves are effectively using a 10-man rotation, with eight players averaging six points or more per game. That depth is something its opponent, the Dallas Mavericks, can hardly boast of.
Dallas is just 1-9 on the season and has had immense problems scoring the basketball. Dallas averages just 97.8 points per game, with Harrison Barnes leading the team at 17.3 points per game. But Barnes has been inefficient, and the Mavericks are not getting a lot from the legendary Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk has averaged under 11 points per game while shooting a very uncharacteristic 39.4 percent from the field.
The Mavericks have been using Dirk often at the 5-spot, where his 7-foot frame should keep him relevant. But the Mavericks need a lot more than mere relevancy from a guy who once tallied 20/10 with few problems. Dennis Smith Jr. has been a pleasant surprise as a rookie, but he, too, is shooting just 38.8 percent from the field for a Mavs team that shoots a putrid 41.5 percent collectively.
Dallas has also turned the ball over too often, averaging 14.8 turnovers per game and just 1.4 assists per turnover. The Mavericks seemingly have the pieces to be far better than a .100 club, but with the offense being so inefficient and so bad, overall, it has made little difference. Dallas also surrenders 107.4 points per game, accounting for a -9.6 point differential.
Expect the Timberwolves to have plenty of success in this game, as Dallas’ big men (Nowitzki in particular) just cannot matchup with Towns. Wiggins may be slowed by Butler, but Towns should have a fairly big game in an easy ‘W’ for Tom Thibodeau’s T-Wolves. Thibodeau has finally imparted a better defensive identity to a team that lacked such last year. Of course, adding a couple of his own former players in Gibson and Butler helped that cause immensely.
Thibbs finally has a roster that he can implement his typical coaching styles to, and the hope is that Butler inculcates some defensive intensity to Wiggins, who to this point in his NBA career has proven to be mostly a one-dimensional scorer. The T-Wolves have a much different look without Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine in its backcourt, but the changes seem to have only been for the better with Minnesota striking out to a winning record and likely to improve to 6-3 tonight.