The Timberwolves are a hard team to gauge in the December 11th NBA free pick. On one hand Minnesota is a slight home ‘dog at +1.5 points which is always appealing. Ryan Saunders’ team is just 3-7 at the Target Center this season though. Utah is a road favorite despite not beating any team besides Memphis (2X) in the last week plus. Is this line saying more about the Jazz’ potential – or Minnesota’s shortcomings?
Utah Needs to Find Some Offense STAT
Jazz fans haven’t exactly been enamored with offseason acquisition Mike Conley this season (13.9 ppg, 4.6 apg) but their offense has looked largely horrible without him the last 3 games. Memphis lost 90-104 to OKC on Monday and 96-121 to the Lakers sandwiched between their 2nd victory over Memphis in the last 8 games.
Besides the two wins over the Grizzlies, the Jazz have been held in the 90s for scoring in their last 3 losses and below 103 points in 5 of 7. The good thing going for Utah in the December 11th NBA free pick is that the Timberwolves defense has been leaking big time allowing 125+ points in 3 straight including 142 to the Lakers and 139 to the Thunder. Will that mean a big night for Donovan Mitchell who has seen a scoring increase with 26+ in 2 of his last 3?
The combination of minimal offense and uncharacteristically bad defense has led to Utah losing by at least 14 points in 4 of their last 6 losses. At least the defeats over that span have been to quality teams in the Bucks, Pacers, Raptors, Sixers, Lakers, and Thunder. Minnesota has fallen to 10th in the Western Conference standings behind some slumps of their own.
What is Behind Minnesota’s Slump?
The Timberwolves have dropped 5 straight to put them down in the bottom 6 in the Western Conference. Minnesota has consistently run one of the fastest paces in the league with almost 109 possessions per game, but is that tempo burning them out? If so, the matchup with Utah may be an omen as the Jazz have the 10th slowest road pace in the NBA.
A reason to think that the Minnesota defense is burning out is because they’ve given up 121 points to Dallas, 139 to OKC (OT), 142 to the Lakers and 125 to the Suns in the last four games. That is 3 of the top 6 teams in offensive efficiency though and even the Thunder rank 15th in that category. Utah is down there at 23rd.
Plus, the Minnesota offense has been holding their own scoring 125+ in 2 of the last 3. Karl-Anthony Towns has a matchup with Rudy Gobert and the #19 Utah defense vs. the C. Towns had 33/15 Monday vs. the Suns, his first double-double in the last 3 games. Towns was held to 14/12 at the Target Center when these teams met up on a home-and-home at the end of November. He did have 29/13 in Utah though.
December 11th NBA Free Pick
The visiting team took both games in that home-and-home on November 18th and 20th. The Jazz took 3 of 4 last year in this series, including the final 3 of the year. Both teams are in a bad way, but also against good teams. Wednesday’s game is very even, and in that case it’s hard to go wrong with the home underdog.
Pick: Timberwolves +1.5