Karl-Anthony Towns and the 16-11 Minnesota Timberwolves will host Ben Simmons and the 13-13 Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA today (9:30 p.m. ET Tuesday on ESPN).
Minnesota has been up and down all year, but more up than down. The team’s defense still needs to find more consistency, especially in the fourth quarter.
Philadelphia has now lost four games in a row after an excellent start to the season. Part of the reason for the rough patch is injuries. The Sixers may still be missing some key players today.
The storylines for this game are up in the air a bit with a couple of Philly starters questionable to play. But let’s still break down some important factors in the contest before making our betting predictions and picks.
What Will the Conditions of Joel Embiid’s and Robert Covington’s Backs Be?
Embiid is the Sixers’ best and most important player. He commands constant double teams in the post and wreaks havoc with his overwhelming skill and size on offense. He is also an excellent rim protector on defense. If he doesn’t play, the Wolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns is much more likely to go off inside.
Embiid is questionable with a back injury. When he doesn’t play, Philly has a record of 1-4 and a point differential of minus-10.4 per game. When he plays, the team is 12-9 and boasts a solid point differential of plus-1.8 per contest.
Covington is also vital to this team with his three-point shooting and defensive versatility. He is questionable with a back injury, like Embiid.
Is Andrew Wiggins Ready to Accept His Role as the Third Option?
Until this season, Wiggins has always been the first or second offensive option on the Wolves. This year, though, the addition of Jimmy Butler next to Karl-Anthony Towns means Wiggins is the team’s third-best offensive player.
Early on in the campaign, Butler was very passive and deferred more often to Wiggins. Over the past handful of games, though, Butler has seized his rightful role as a bigger part of the offense. This has affected Wiggins, who has averaged 12.5 points, 1 assist and 2.3 turnovers in 36.5 minutes per game on a 33.3/7.7/64.3 shooting slash in his last four contests.
Wiggins needs to get better at cutting off the ball and knocking down spot-up jumpers to accept this role. This does requires actual practice, but the athletic young wing can also get better at this by simply accepting the role mentally.
Can the 76ers Make a Better Effort to Cover the Three-Point Line?
Philly is usually a team you have to score on inside the three-point arc and at the free-throw line. The Sixers are a smart defensive team that realizes the importance of running squads off the line.
However, the Sixers’ current four-game skid has seen a reversal of that trend. Opponents have made 12.5 long balls per game at a 48.5 percent clip. Before this stretch, Philly was allowing just 10.2 and 33.0 in those categories, respectively.
Minnesota is not an especially dangerous team from outside. But neither were the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans when they entered their games against the Sixers in the past week. All of them had their way shooting the three ball.
Our Preview’s Philadelphia 76ers at Minnesota Timberwolves Picks & Betting Predictions
So much rides on whether Embiid and Covington play. Philadelphia probably won’t have enough talent to win if neither guy suits up. Since this is a marquee matchup for the teams and both players (Embiid vs. Towns and Covington vs. Butler and Wiggins), I’m guessing both guys push through any potential discomfort and play.
Expect the Sixers to keep this one very close or win as they attempt to break out of an uncharacteristic losing streak. The top online bookies for USA clients have not yet published their odds, given the uncertainties with the team line-ups. However we know fairly accurately how the betting lines will look and so we can make some recommendations. Our Sixers vs Wolves predictions and picks for this preview are:
- Minnesota is going to be around a 6-point favorite with the sportsbooks here, but I think Philadelphia is the better play. When they post their odds, you are likely going to be able to bet on the Sixers +6pts @ odds of -110 with top firms like Bovada or 5Dimes.
- We expect the points total spread to be around the 215pts figure. The youthful excitement of this game will make it a fast-paced affair. All of the young studs will be eager to outplay their counterparts on the opposing squad. So our advice would be to go with the over here, again making sure you wager with a trusted firm like the two this preview just mentioned or Intertops and Bookmaker.