Minnesota Timberwolves at Sacramento Kings
Time: 9:30 PM (CT), NBA TV
Spread: MIN -1.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Minnesota Timberwolves disappointed the mounting bandwagon tribe opening night. Minnesota lost 102-98 to the Memphis Grizzlies on the road, and they say on the road as the team travels to Sacramento to face the Kings in their new arena. The Wolves are 1.5 point favorites for the game which will air at 9:30 central time on NBA TV.
Opening night, the Wolves got strong play front its frontcourt. Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Gorgui Dieng combined to shoot 21 of 44 for 58 points and 21 rebounds, outpacing the Grizzlies frontcourt by 13 points and five boards. It still was not enough, given that Mike Conley thoroughly outplayed Ricky Rubio. Rubio had four points and eight assists, but Conley shot 8 of 14 and 4 of 5 from three-point range en route to 24 points, four assists and a board.
Despite that, the Grizz were -3 in Conley’s 30 minutes of court time. That is perplexing, but the fact is the Wolves are a team that still has a lot of growing to do, and Memphis is a tough veteran squad that is still going to claw its way to near 50 wins. There are worse opening night losses.
The majority of the hype in the Northwest seems to settle around Towns. He put together one of the finest rookie seasons from a big man since Tim Duncan, and that comparison has been thrown around some, howsoever unfair it may be. Towns had 21 points, four rebounds and five assists against the Grizzlies, and last season he averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per game while shooting 54 percent from the floor.
Encouraging to see was Towns’ five three-point attempts, especially considering he hit two of them. Last year he shot 34.4 percent from three, but he attempted just 1.1 per game. That figure can stand to at least double, while sustaining five attempts a game is clearly not realistic. He is a big that can shoot the rock, though, and Towns really can do a little bit of everything. The Duncan comparison is good—just lofty.
The Sacramento Kings are 1-1 after a win over the Phoenix Suns and a loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The Kings looked pretty good in the L to San Antonio, shining early and jumping out to an early lead in the first quarter. For a team that has had so much turnover and is again coached by a first-year coach, the Kings appear to be on the verge of turning some kind of corner.
DeMarcus Cousins is averaging 30 points, 11 rebounds and two assists per game this season in just 31 minutes a night, and Rudy Gay has been his typical scoring self with 19.5 points per game and the team’s second-highest PER. Ty Lawson has not been so great statistically, but he is doing a better job of running the team than his humble eight point, eight assist average might suggest.
Lawson has been composed and has kept his turnovers (way) down. He boasts a 5.3 Assist-to-Turnover ratio, and though in many respects his play has been average…average is actually a good thing for a Kings team that has not made the postseason in a decade. Sacramento will (likely) have a tough time even with a young Wolves team favored by just 1.5 points.
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