The NBA welcomes fans back with a full slate of NBA action on Friday, including the Celtics heading to the Midwest to square off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Read on for our betting preview of this contest.
Boston remains highly in playoff contention, sitting at 3rd in the Eastern Conference. The Timberwolves have only 16 wins on the season, their only glimmer of hope coming from the recent acquisition of D’Angelo Russell.
The Celtics’ 38-16 record puts them eight games behind the conference-leading Bucks and only 1.5 behind the second-place Raptors. They’re 8-2 in their last 10 games.
The Timberwolves are only 1-9 in their last 10, and 16-37 overall. They recently unloaded top draft pick Andrew Wiggins to the Warriors for Russell. Only time will tell how that works out for them. Tip-off is set for 8 pm ET on Friday night.
Brad Stephens once again shows that he can make the best of any roster handed to him this year, though this is an exceptionally talented roster. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have been phenomenal for the group. Tatum is averaging 22.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.4 steals on the season. Brown is putting up 20.2, 6.4, and 1.1.
Brown went into the All-Star break with a day to day status due to a calf injury. His status for Friday’s game is not yet known. Kemba Walker has been bringing his 21.8 points and five assists per game all season and has been relentless since joining a contending team. Throw Gordon Hayward in the mix, and you’ve got a championship-caliber team.
Ice Cold in Minnesota
Few players would have been happier to arrive in icy Minnesota after playing in sunny California. However, Russell was about as happy as one could be about coming to a struggling team in Minnesota.
After all, his previous team was literally the worst in the league. Russell is averaging 24 points and eight assists on the season, which should easily replace Wiggins production and then some.
Karl-Anthony Towns leads the team in most of everything and has become one of the most dynamic bigs in the game. Towns is putting up 26.5 points and 10.8 boards per game. It’s also extremely difficult to gain position on him on the defensive end of the floor. Towns blocks only 1.2 shots per game, but it’s those that he alters that don’t show up on the stat sheet.
Hot and Cold
It remains to be seen if the Celtics can actually catch the likes of the Bucks in the East. It would take a major stumble from Milwaukee. Overall, the Celtics are second to only OKC at covering the spread this season at 32-20-2. Minnesota is the worst team in the league when it comes to covering. 18-33-2. Yikes.
The Celtics are favored by 6.5 points in this game, with an over/under of 228.5. And in this one, don’t expect the unexpected. I would expect exactly what the matchup looks like on paper.