The pick: Cavaliers 97-90
I love me some Minnesota, but this is a rough spot for them. The undefeated Timberwolves have feasted on a trio of teams that put little focus on defense, something that hasn’t been the case for these Cavs this season (allowing 91.7 points per game, the second fewest in the league). Minnesota, on the other hand, gave up 103 points in regulation to a very bad Orlando Magic team and allowed the New York Knicks to crack triple digits behind 31 points from the dynamic duo of Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace.
Ready for a shocking statistic? The Timberwolves have the second best rebounder right now in Kevin Love, yet it is the Cavaliers that have the better team rebounding numbers this season (Cleveland has two more rebounds than their opponents while Minnesota has been outrebounded by nine). The Cavaliers have plenty of front court depth (seven forward/centers are averaging at least nine minutes per game) which is a big reason why I think Cleveland can mitigate the impact of the Timberwolves’ big man. As much as I love Ricky Rubio, even I can’t deny the greatness of Kyrie Irving. Rubio has been head and shoulders better than the point guards the Timberwolves have opposed this season (Jameer Nelson, Reggie Jackson, and Raymond Felton aren’t very good any way, but they’ve combined to shoot 13-for-38 from the field against Minnesota), and that simply won’t be the case in this game.
Teams that have at least one win this season have won 36-of-41 home games. The odds of the home team winning increase when the road team is coming into town on the second night of a road back-to-back. I’m sticking to my prediction that the Timberwolves will win more games than the Cavaliers this season (including the rematch in a little over one week), but the statistics point toward the home team covering the small spread tonight behind their star point guard.