The 3/8 NBA free pick between the Boston Celtics (45 – 20) and the Minnesota Timberwolves (38-28) is an interesting one. With 15-ish games left in the regular season both teams have a lot to play for – but also not much to play for at the same time. The Celtics for example have a pretty firm grasp on the #2 seed in the East (lead Cleveland by 6.5 games) but will have a hard time catching Toronto (-2.5 games back) since the Raptors don’t seem to lose anymore.
The Timberwolves are bunched in that 3-7 pack in the West that is probably going to the playoffs as long as they play .500 ball down the stretch. In a nationally televised, yet out-of-conference, game which team brings it on Thursday?
Celtics Welcome Back a Fresh Kyrie Irving Tonight
Celtics guard Kyrie Irving says, “he’s in” for tonight’s 3/8 NBA free pick against Minnesota. The face of the franchise missed Boston’s last outing against Chicago to rest his knee but is expected to have no limitations tonight. Boston got that win against the Bulls without Irving and the Celtics overall have won five of their last six. The only loss was a 120-123 defeat in Houston to a Rockets team that has now won 17 straight games. Irving may not be as big of an ‘X’ factor as thought tonight though and not just because of his injury. The Wolves have held Irving to 17.7 ppg in his career and he’s shooting just 26.9% from three in his career against Minnesota.
Holding Irving in check was a trend that continued in the teams’ other meeting this season. The Celtics got a 91-84 home win on January 5th but Irving shot just 6-16 from the floor. The Boston bench picked up the slack in that game however with Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier combining for 32 points. One big question for Boston in tonight’s game is how they deal with Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 25 points and 23 rebounds in the first meeting.
Can Minnesota Rekindle Their Home Magic?
There was a time this season that the Timberwolves had won 13 straight games at the Target Center until that streak was snapped in a 108-126 loss to the Rockets. Minnesota has won both home games since, but they haven’t played on their own court since February 24th. Boston is one of the better road teams in the NBA with a 21-9 record away from TD Garden this year, but the T’Wolves are 25-7 at home this season. Minnesota has five nights of rest coming into the 3/8 NBA free pick – is that an advantage or a precursor to rust?
Towns should have another big night as he leads the NBA in double doubles with 55. The big uestion is who else is going to pick up the slack against Boston’s #2 scoring defense that is also the best in terms of opponents shooting percentage. Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague combined for 52 points the last time out against Utah but the search for offense brings up another big point. Minnesota has gone 2-2 in Jimmy Butler’s absence and although his offense will be missed, can the T’Wolves defense stop Irving without their best defender in the lineup?
3/8 NBA Free Pick Betting
The Celtics -2.5 is the most popular bet of the night for the NBA public wagerers as the C’s have commanded a whopping 81% of the action. The line reflects the popularity, up from a BOS -1 open. The Celtics are definitely playing good basketball and the Wolves are just 2-8 ATS their last 10. Boston welcomes back one of their stars in Kyrie Irving while Minnesota continues to be without Jimmy Butler. Despite all of this, you can’t discount the T’Wolves home court advantage tonight. Boston is 1-4 ATS their last 5 in Minnesota while the home team has gone 13-3 ATS the last 16 meetings. The Timberwolves are only 1.5 games out of the 3rd seed in a crowded Western Conference so maybe a win is their priority.
Free Pick: Minnesota Timberwolves +2.5