The Minnesota Timberwolves entered the season with thoughts of winning the Northwest Division. If those hopes were anywhere close to reality more than halfway through the season, tonight’s matchup with the Denver Nuggets would be pivotal. Instead, the Wolves are scrapping to simply make the playoffs while the Nuggets run away with a Top-2 seed in the conference.
The Grizzlies’ persistent chase of Denver means this game matters for both teams, though only one of them is anywhere near full strength.
Here are our free NBA picks and predictions for the Timberwolves vs. the Nuggets on January 18, with tip set for 10:00 ET.
Timberwolves vs Nuggets best odds
Timberwolves vs Nuggets picks and predictions
In what must be a statistical fluke, the Timberwolves have won their last four games against the Nuggets. One of those teams is a perennial play-in contender; the other is a perennial conference finals contender. And yet, the play-in team keeps winning.
Let’s amp up the oddity: Minnesota has been an underdog in three of those four games, the exception being as a one-point favorite.
Now to double down on it: The Timberwolves do not just win, they win handily. Minnesota has beaten Denver four games in a row by an average of 12.8 points.
Your first assumption is assuredly that the Nuggets have been repeatedly shorthanded, but no, not more than usual. Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon have played in all four games. The Timberwolves just seem to have the Nuggets’ number.
Is this a matchup issue? If it is, it is one revolving around Anthony Edwards. He had a rough outing last February — a game buoyed by Jarred Vanderbilt scoring 18 points and grabbing 9 rebounds and Taurean Prince adding 23 points and 9 more rebounds — but in the other three games, Edwards has averaged 28.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists.
A compact 6-foot-5, Edwards is a tough guard for anyone in the league, let alone Denver. The Nuggets’ best defenders are Gordon and, perhaps more so in time, Michael Porter Jr. Neither is fast enough to keep up with Edwards. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is not strong enough.
Ant should be nearly a one-man show tonight. Karl-Anthony Towns has been sidelined with a calf strain for a couple of months now, and Rudy Gobert will also miss out tonight due to groin soreness. That leaves Edwards and D’Angelo Russell, maybe or maybe not trusted by the coaching staff in a close game.
INSERT RECORD SCRATCH.
We’re showing process now. You see where this handicap was going. The intention was to grab an Edwards points Over somewhere in the mid-20s, hopefully no higher than 25.5. But then the Wolves listed him as questionable on the same injury report that announced Gobert’s absence. Sportsbooks took down Edwards’ props.
First of all, he has been questionable for more than a week. He keeps playing. Secondly, an unavailable market is not one we can use to offer a best bet.
But this process can still steer toward Jaden McDaniels. He missed a game-winning three on Monday, hitting front rim from the corner as the buzzer sounded. While nowhere near as explosive or dynamic as Edwards, McDaniels provides a similar matchup problem with his length and ability to slice through the lane quickly. Minnesota needs more from him this season to get through the play-in.
Missing that three may create a moment for Russell and the coaching staff to emphasize McDaniels, with or without Edwards, to rebuild and reinforce his confidence. So, the opportunity should be available.
He has averaged 11.0 points per game in his last 10 but remove three games with five fouls that limited both his minutes and his aggression, and that jumps to 12.6 points per game.
On a night that may include more chances for McDaniels — and drastically more if this is the night the Timberwolves finally choose to rest Edwards before two more games in the next three nights — his points prop is still only 10.5.
My best bet: Jaden McDaniels Over 10.5 points (-120)
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Timberwolves vs Nuggets spread analysis
Though Denver played last night, this game opened with the Nuggets favored by eight points this morning, some books even opting for -8.5. That spent a chunk of the morning at -7.5 before the Gobert news drove it up to -10.5.
More and more, this looks like an unexpected schedule loss for Minnesota. Yield tonight and top the Raptors and Rockets in the next three days. It is not ideal for the Timberwolves, but little this season has been.
If that is indeed the case, Minnesota may easily lose by 20, just cruising to the finish line. Furthermore, Denver has proven it can sustain a big lead in a blowout. On its current seven-game winning streak, the first five games were all wins by at least 12 points.
Timberwolves vs Nuggets Over/Under analysis
The total did not move through the Gobert news, sticking around 237.5 all day. He may not be an offensive threat, but one would think Jokic getting a night away from Gobert would jump the total.
Do not assume a blowout will lead to a lower score. Bench players and deep reserves need to make the most of their extended opportunities when they get them. Byrn Forbes is on a one-year contract and hitting just 25.6 percent of his threes this season. The former sharpshooter needs to prove he still has a stroke if he wants anyone to sign him come summer.
Timberwolves vs Nuggets betting trend to know
The Over is 5-1 in Minnesota’s last six road games. Find more NBA betting trends for Timberwolves vs. Nuggets.
Timberwolves vs Nuggets game info
|Location:||Ball Arena, Denver, CO|
|Date:||Wednesday, January 18, 2023|
|Tip-off:||8:00 p.m. ET|