The next two-plus months of Western Conference basketball may have a game every night with an outsized impact on the playoff standings. Tonight, that's the Golden State Warriors heading on the road to face the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Warriors are on a three-game winning streak and could move within a half-game of the No. 4 seed tonight... or the Timberwolves could jump from No. 8 to No. 5.
When such drama comes every night, it's important not to overreact too much to the flux of the standings, but the players still know these games against teams alongside them in the standings effectively count double now.
Check out my free NBA betting picks for Warriors vs. Timberwolves below, with tip set for 8:00 ET.
Warriors vs Timberwolves best odds
Warriors vs Timberwolves picks and predictions
Death, taxes and Andrew Wiggins revenge games.
That may sound extreme, but if there is any fanbase that knows to expect Wiggins’ best when he is aggrieved, it's Minnesota Timberwolves fans... maybe “aggrieved” is a strong word.
For example, there's no basketball-decision reason for Wiggins to hold a grudge against the Raptors, but the Canadian always tends to find some extra motivation and show out. In his career, he's averaged 22.2 points on 47.5% shooting against Toronto. Both of those marks are about three points higher than his career averages.
The same can be said against the Cavaliers, who had the audacity to trade Wiggins before he played a game in the NBA for Kevin Love at LeBron James’ behest. How dare they? Wiggins took that insult and has averaged 21.9 points and 49.4% shooting against Cleveland in his career.
Now here comes the twist. In a handicap based on the intangible of grudge-holding, here's some unexpected data to produce a seemingly incoherent claim: When the Timberwolves traded Wiggins to Golden State, they took the top spot on his kill list. At the absolute least, they lept past Cleveland.
Maple Jordan still puts on a show for his fellow Canadians. He averaged 22.6 points per game against the Raptors in 10 games with the Timberwolves; since joining the Warriors, that has fallen to 21.3 points in four games.
His Cleveland aggression no longer exists. Wiggins averaged 24.6 points per game against the Cavaliers in 11 games with Minnesota; since joining the Golden State Warriors, that has fallen to 16.0 points in five games. Some of that can naturally be tied to the Warriors having so many other weapons, but that average against Cleveland is even less than his Bay Area-tenure average of 17.9 ppg.
Wiggins instead focuses on the Minnesota Timberwolves, on his former teammate Karl-Anthony Towns (though sidelined tonight with a right calf strain dating back to November), on Minnesota owner Glen Taylor who somewhat embarrassed Wiggins with a public declaration that he needed to look the forward “in the eyes” before giving him a max contract, on the Timberwolves fans who spent years booing Wiggins to the extent that he started swearing at them in his final season in Minnesota.
Since that trade, Wiggins has shot 47.1% from the field to score that 17.9 ppg. Against the Timberwolves, he shoots 55.5% from the field to score 20.5 ppg. He has exceeded his Golden State average in five of the eight games against Minnesota. And in two of the three instances he fell short, he still dished out four assists, something Timberwolves fans could hardly comprehend coming from Wiggins.
Death, taxes, Andrew Wiggins revenge games.
He will get up for tonight. He will hear the Minnesota fans still boo him. There is no lingering affection as there will forever be for Love and Ricky Rubio, Patrick Beverley and Jarred Vanderbilt, even Taj Gibson and Gorgui Dieng. There is only animosity for the former No. 1 pick who never developed a well-rounded game alongside Towns.
This kind of intangible is not factored into bookmakers’ math, especially not on prop bets. How do you quantify a Canadian despising the cold?
So Wiggins’ point total tonight is set below his season average of 17.4, though admittedly above his average of 12.8 in the eight games Wiggins has played since returning from an abductor injury. But take out a four-point showing in that stretch against Brooklyn between games Wiggins was sidelined by a non-COVID illness, and Wiggins’ return has averaged 14 points per game.
That’s still below tonight’s prop of 15.5 points, but it suggests he is returning to the efficient form that Golden State has so relished.
Against the Timberwolves, that efficient form should shine... it always does. He will get his in Minnesota, something the Wolves fans begged for all those years.
My best bet: Andrew Wiggins Over 15.5 points (-110)
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Warriors vs Timberwolves spread analysis
The Timberwolves have been hot of late, and instinct was to say the Warriors have been hotter, but that is not actually the case. Golden State has a point differential of +20 since Jan. 1, compared to Minnesota’s +58. The Warriors are 7-6 since the New Year, compared to the Timberwolves at 11-5.
Even more recently, Minnesota has gone 5-2 in its last seven games with a differential of +24, while Golden State has also gone 5-2 with a differential of +30.
There may not be that much between these two right now, not given how Anthony Edwards has excelled this month, D’Angelo Russell has redefined what it means to be hot from deep, and the Timberwolves have found some defensive traction with Rudy Gobert.
Hence, a spread opening with the Warriors favored by only 2.5 late Tuesday, and that moving just to -3.5 this morning.
Warriors vs Timberwolves Over/Under analysis
The total fell from as high as 240.5, depending on your book, to 238 by midmorning. That may be a nod to Minnesota’s improving defense, Monday’s overtime against the Kings aside.
The last four Wolves games have all gone Under their totals, and with plenty of room to spare. Take out overtime on Monday — though that still went 7.5 points Under the pregame total — and the last four Minnesota games have fallen short of their totals by an average of 20.4 points.
Warriors vs Timberwolves betting trend to know
The Over is 8-0 in the last eight meetings between these two teams, a stretch that goes back to the first game after the Timberwolves traded Wiggins to the Warriors. Find more NBA betting trends for Warriors vs. Timberwolves.
Warriors vs Timberwolves game info
|Location:||Target Center, Minneapolis, MN|
|Date:||Wednesday, February 1, 2023|
|Tip-off:||8:00 p.m. ET|
|TV:||NBCS Bay Area, Bally Sports North|