San Antonio at Minnesota
Time: 7 PM CT, ESPN
Spread: MIN -1
Odds c/o 5dimes
The San Antonio Spurs have won seven of its last 10 games to improve to 26-20. The Spurs are tied for the lead in the Southwest Division with the Houston Rockets, and this is a team truly without as much talent as Houston but it does possess one of the greatest coaches of all-time in Gregg Popovich. The Spurs replaced do-it-all forward Kawhi Leonard with 2-guard DeMar DeRozan this offseason, but this is not a Spurs team resplendent with offensive talents. LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay are both very solid strong veterans, but the rest of the roster is a rag-tag collection of players Popovich has found every way to maximize the respective talents of.
DeRozan and Aldridge combine to score 42.2 points per game, but the offense has hardly been a problem for this Spurs team which averages 112.3 points per game. Bryn Forbes has evolved into a very useful guard and is averaging 13.6 points per game, and Marco Belinelli is still a sharpshooter who thrives in the right system. The Spurs are hoping Derrick White can become a star, and he has looked good in his 22 starts this season. Even Jakob Poeltl has found his defensive calling under Popovich and though he plays just 15 minutes a game, the Spurs utilize an 11-man rotation and call deep into its bench.
Veteran and future Hall of Famer Pau Gasol has missed the majority of the season and was already looking as though he hit the inevitable career-type-ending “wall.” Even without Gasol, the Spurs manage to get five points or more from 10 different players and keep a fresh rotation the court. Pop always finds new ways to reinvent his same schemes, and the effect is a team seven games above .500 after losing an MVP caliber talent this offseason. San Antonio could not really reasonably expect any better than this.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have won four of its last six games and are 21-23 on the season.
The season story for Minnesota has largely been one of disappointment, beginning with having to deal superstar Jimmy Butler due to his discontent with the franchise. While Minnesota got a fair to decent return on Butler in a trade with Philadelphia, it subtracted unarguably the best two-way talent on the roster while also taking away any chance it had of keeping an All-Star veteran leader.
That task now falls to Karl Anthony Towns. Towns has quietly put together a very good season with his 22 points and 12 rebounds per game, but the Wolves have been colossally disappointed with former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins has now not only failed to defend, but he has also become much more of an “average” offensive threat at small forward. Averaging just 17.9 points per game, if Wiggins is not bringing his primary value as a scorer he is offering close to nowhere near his actual potential.
Moreover, while Derrick Rose has turned in a superb season, Minnesota is not defending well. It averages 111.6 points per game but surrenders 111.1 per game which is good for just a plus-0.5 point differential. Minnesota never defended to the level it really should have, and without Butler, there is no one really vocal enough to chairman its defense.
ATS TRENDS (C/O Covers):