The Pick: Timberwolves 106-94
I was buying their improvement and they have done absolutely nothing in the early going this season for me to back off of that confidence. The addition of Kevin Martin (24.4 points per game on 47.4 percent shooting from long range) this offseason has played a big role in Minnesota’s third ranked offense (108.5 points) as he has fit their need for backcourt scoring like a glove. Between Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, they have a representative in the NBA’s top three in points, assists, rebounds, and steals. Their two stars are producing at a high level, but their ability to go nine deep (all average at least 12 minutes per game) has played an equally large role in their third best point differential (+8.3).
Minnesota’s efficiency figures to be the difference maker in this one. They rank third in the league in free throw percentage (81.7) while Washington converts a mere 69.2 percent of their freebies, the worst mark in the league. On average, the Timberwolves score 6.5 more points from the stripe than the Wizards, an advantage that cannot be ignored and could potentially help Minnesota cover should if this game be close down the stretch. Also playing into the visitors’ favor is the fact that they hold a big time edge in points allowed per shot. If you average out offensive shots and defensive shots allowed, the Wizards will out shoot the Timberwolves 88 to 86.3. But if statistics hold out, that would lead to a 109-99 win for the T-wolves, as Washington is giving up 1.26 points per shot (24th in the NBA) while Minnesota is surrendering 1.13 (tied for fourth best).
Think about that. The stats suggest that Washington is likely to attempt more shots yet lose by double figures. Love gets most of the attention, but Minnesota quietly has five players that are averaging more than 20 points per 48 minutes, and I just don’t think the Wizards (allowing opponents to convert on 48.3 percent of their attempts, 29th worst in the league) can slow down this attack for four quarters.
Fun Fact: The Washington Wizards have had the game’s leading scorer and the game’s leading rebounder only twice this season. Kevin Love has three such games by himself.
We’ve been hot of late and handed out more free money last night. Looking for more of my work? My fantasy articles and NBA picks against the spread are published routinely and I’m always fielding questions @unSOPable23