Jeff Teague and the 2-1 Minnesota Timberwolves host the 1-2 Indiana Pacers tonight in Teague’s first matchup against his team from last season (8pm ET Tuesday).
The Teague storyline is an interesting one, but there are a lot of other things going on with these teams. The Timberwolves are also still integrating Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford into their way of doing things. The Pacers have an even newer roster led in scoring by shooting guard Victor Oladipo, who the team traded for over the summer.
The Timberwolves are the obvious favorites here, but what factors could help swing the game the other way? This preview will discuss that and more before making predictions and picks in a bid to get the best of the game’s betting lines.
Can the Timberwolves Get Jimmy Butler Going?
Many people, including myself, consider Butler the best player on the Timberwolves. Unfortunately, though, he hasn’t played up to that standard thus far this season. Butler is averaging just 13.3 points, 4 assists and 2.7 turnovers per game and is shooting a mere 39.5 percent from the field.
The big difference from last season, when he essentially was the Chicago Bulls’ entire offense, is that he’s not getting to the free-throw line anymore. He has taken just one shot per game from there this season — in 2016-17, he averaged 8.9 free-throw attempts per contest.
Butler’s teammate on the wing, Andrew Wiggins, seems to have found his groove already this season. The Timberwolves would be wise to give Butler more touches on Tuesday to get him feeling confident and comfortable with his new squad.
Can Domantas Sabonis Lift His Game to an Even Higher Level With Myles Turner Out?
The Pacers are missing their best player, Myles Turner, due to a concussion he suffered last week. The young center’s absence will be a major blow to Indiana’s ability to score inside, protect the rim and rebound.
Sabonis will be his replacement, and he has played very well in two of the three games so far. In those contests, he averaged 17 points and 9.5 rebounds per game while shooting 76.5 percent from the field.
The Pacers’ young big man will face a tough matchup against the Wolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns will likely dominate Sabonis on the boards and score plenty on him, but Towns is still a weak defender. Can Sabonis go off on the offensive end even more than he has so far this season?
Can the Timberwolves Take Advantage of Indiana’s Poor Three-Point Defense?
If you assumed the Pacers’ defense would take a step back without Paul George, you were right. Indiana has allowed the third-most points per 100 possessions in the league.
The Pacers’ lack of punch defending the perimeter is especially concerning. With minus defenders like Bojan Bogdanovic and Darren Collison guarding top options for the opposition, it’s only natural that other teams are getting great looks from three-point range. Indiana’s opponents are knocking down a whopping 11.7 threes per game on a success rate of 42.2 percent.
The Timberwolves are not an especially good shooting team, but they need to attack this weakness of the Pacers. Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jamal Crawford and Nemanja Bjelica are all respectable outside shooters, and they need to take their deep shots confidently.
Our Preview’s Indiana Pacers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Betting Picks & Predictions
The Timberwolves are just a much better team than the Pacers on both ends, especially without Myles Turner, who anchors this team on offense and defense. Minnesota head coach also likes playing his stars big minutes, even sometimes in games that aren’t competitive, so expect the Wolves to keep their foot on the gas all game.
- At home, the Timberwolves are 11-point favorites according to the top rated oddsmakers from around the web. This preview recommends taking Minnesota -11pts @ -110 with Bovada, 5Dimes, Bookmaker or BetOnline.
- I believe this is a game where the Timberwolves’ defense will come together. They allowed just 97 points against the Utah Jazz at home last week, and the Pacers without Turner are a much worse offensive team than Utah. Our prediction is to pick the under 217.5 total points to be scored @ -110 with Bookmaker. The other firms are all currently under 217pts for the same odds.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.