Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Clippers
Time: 3:30 PM ET
Spread: LAC -9.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
There may have not been two teams more unlikely to be meeting at a pedestrian .500. But the Minnesota Timberwolves have been better than expected at 8-8 while the L.A. Clippers were not expected to be as low as breakeven. Even so, Doc Rivers’ Clippers squad is favored by 9.5 points over the Timberwolves at home in NBA action Sunday. The over/under is set at 206.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have done a rebuild right: Rather than accrue only young talent it has positioned Tayshaun Prince and Kevin Garnett in their waning years to help mostly with leadership and additional player coaching. KG in particular is a tough type of mentor, but judging by the play of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, it is working.
Wiggins leads the Wolves in scoring with 21.8 points per game, showing all of the superstar promise that made him the No. 1 overall pick in 2014. Meanwhile, fellow 2014 lottery pick Zach LaVine is averaging 14 points in just 24 minutes a night to go with 3.6 assists and an 18.1 PER.
Towns has been very good for a rookie, both reacting on defense and in scoring. We knew he could block shots, and he has with 2.25 per game in 28 minutes a night. His work on the boards has been solid with 9.4 per game, and he is third on the team in scoring at 14.2 points per game.
Despite only having spent one season at Duke, he appeared as NBA ready as any talent in the draft, and he has solidified his position as the league’s premier rookie, especially with No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor facing legal issues.
Ricky Rubio is still not a good shooter at just 35 percent from the floor, but he is the captain of the ship and doing a good job of setting the table for the great scorers that surround him. The Timberwolves even have a good amount of depth, as Shabazz Muhammed is blossoming after a tough start to his career.
Gorgui Dieng appears to improve on a per-game basis. All things taken into consideration and it is easy to see why the Wolves are 8-8 and knocking on the door of a playoff bid this season.
The Clippers are still sort of searching for answers because things were supposed to be a lot better than this. L.A. has played horrible defense, ranking in the bottom-third of defensive rating at 21st while the offense has been stellar as usual (4th defensive rating of 106.5). The win differential is just +0.4 however.
Blake Griffin is really having another great season. His 25.1 points per game lead the Clipper ship and he’s only fallen off slightly with 4.5 dimes per contest. He is shooting 54.7 percent from the floor, which still does not compare to his teammate DeAndre Jordan’s 69.2 percent field goal shooting.
Overall, the Clippers problems could really be solved by putting forth a tougher and more organized defensive effort. Rotations have been slow and guys are not getting back in transition. Rivers needs to instill some confidence in his team, and Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce both appear shake as guys shooting in the 30 percent range on the season.