A matchup of teams with definite flaws happens in Minnesota today as the 10-9 Washington Wizards visit the 12-8 Minnesota Timberwolves (8pm ET Tuesday).
Washington has now lost four of its last five games, two of which came without All-Star point guard John Wall. He is now slated to miss about two weeks with a knee injury. The squad has played very inconsistently, especially on defense.
Minnesota also has troubles with consistency on the defensive end. Overall, the Wolves rank third-last in the NBA in defensive rating, but they’ve shown flashes of being solid on that side of the court. They have the personnel to do well there.
Even without Wall and a few other key players, this matchup should have plenty of entertaining players and storylines. Let’s preview those before projecting how the contest will go and choosing our Wizards at Wolves betting predictions and picks.
Which Team Can Execute Better in Fourth Quarter?
The Wizards and Timberwolves may have winning records, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been reliable in late-game situations. Both squads have crumbled when the pressure is highest.
Washington and Minnesota rank 26th and 30th respectively in fourth-quarter net rating. For the Wizards, that futility has often caused them to lose tight games. For the Wolves, their late-game issues often turn large leads into very tight wins.
Both squads could be without their starting point guards, which doesn’t bode well for fourth-quarter execution. However, the team that remains calmer in running its offense and more disciplined on defense in the fourth quarter will likely win tonight.
Will Wizards’ Markieff Morris Bring His Best?
Morris, the Wizards’ starting power forward, is one of those players whose performance varies wildly from game to game. At his best, he is a versatile, efficient scoring option who provides a bunch of defensive versatility. At his worst, he jacks up lots of bad shots, plays lazy defense and commits silly fouls.
The Wizards’ results have generally trended similar to Morris’ performances. He averages 21.6 points per 36 minutes on a 62.9 true shooting percentage in wins, but just 9.9 points per 36 minutes with a 41 true shooting percentage in losses.
In this game, the Wizards can’t afford one of their veteran forward’s bad games. He will be matched up against the Timberwolves’ Taj Gibson, who is the epitome of consistency and discipline.
Will Either of the Wolves’ Game-Time Decisions Play?
Minnesota has two important players who are game-time decisions for today due to injury: starting point guard Jeff Teague (Achilles soreness) and reserve forward Nemanja Bjelica (foot sprain). Both players have missed the past two contests.
Teague is obviously the more important piece here. His ability to knife through defenses and get easy looks for himself and teammates is vital to the Wolves. His replacement, Tyus Jones, is steady, but isn’t as dynamic on offense. Bjelica is also key for the bench unit with his deadeye three-point shooting.
Obviously, we won’t know the status of these injured players until right before the game. However, know that the Wolves being the home team could be a factor in both of these guys playing.
Our Preview’s Wizards at Wolves Picks & Betting Predictions
The Wizards are on a cold streak, and they’re now minus Wall. Both teams are very inconsistent, which makes this a tough prediction, but I think Minnesota’s superior depth will be the trump card, considering both groups of starters are relatively strong.
The top USA-facing betting websites are avoiding posting their betting lines on this matchup at the time of writing, no doubt being cautious as the line-ups are yet to be fully confirmed. However this preview will still have a stab at giving our predictions and picks, and here they are:
- The Timberwolves are likely to be around 5-point favorites, and they should win by at least that much. We would advise betting on the Wolves on the spread if the handicap is around that 5-point mark.
- With one point out and another either out or limited, I don’t trust either offense to play its best. Both teams’ execution has also been terrible in the fourth quarter this season. We expect the total points to be posted by the sportsbooks at around the 214 mark. If that is the case, then we would suggest a wager on the under.
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.