The NBA schedule continues on Tuesday with a small five-game slate. Most teams are six or seven games into their 2020-21 campaign going into Tuesday. Has there been any surprises so far in the NBA? It’s much too early to draw any conclusions, and I think the Lakers are still the superior team in the league, but one team sticks out as a potential spoiler. And no, it’s not the Portland Trail Blazers, who have just been kind of average thus far. The Phoenix Suns, led by Devin Booker, are a team to watch in the Western Conference.
They’re getting nice production out of Deandre Ayton, while Booker continues to get better, and the addition of Chris Paul gives them a solid vet. Mikal Bridges might be the most important x-factor on the Suns. He goes above expectations and the Suns might scare a major contender in the playoffs. The difference between this and last season has been the effort on the defensive floor. They’ve been much more active and engaged defensively.
The Minnesota Timberwolves hope to follow in the footsteps of the Suns. Show steady improvement over the next few years and look to breakout. There is a lot of work to do before they get to that point, and it’s easier said than done. Dumping Andrew Wiggins was a solid first step for the Timberwolves. It was clear that Wiggins was nearing his expiration date in Minnesota, and swapping him for a talent like D’Angelo Russell was a no-brainer. Both can be streaky, but I’d rather have Russell and ditch a guy that needed a change of scenery.
The Timberwolves are on the road against a Denver Nuggets team that has been off to a slow start. I asked if there’s been any surprises to begin this writeup, and the Nuggets off to a 2-4 start is a small surprise. Only six games into the season, it’s way too early to write Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets. Write off as in continue to play under .500 basketball.
It’s hard to see them competing with the serious contenders in a hyper competitive Western Conference, but they should be able to dig out of this small hole and play respectable basketball like they did a season ago. A 124-109 win over the Timberwolves on Sunday is a baby step, as would another win tonight. Head below for our free Timberwolves vs. Nuggets pick on January 5, 2021.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Denver Nuggets NBA Betting Odds:
Timberwolves vs. Nuggets Prediction:
When I say the Timberwolves want to follow the Suns’ lead, it’s going to have to start with repairing their abysmal defense. It took the Suns a while to put their defense going in the right direction, and it’s not going to be an overnight change for the Timberwolves either. They enter Tuesday night with an abysmal mark of 119.5 points against per game. It doesn’t get much worse than that on defense in the NBA. They’ve conceded
The Timberwolves own the 27th best defense in the NAB through six games. Karl-Anthony Towns must play more of an active role on the defensive floor for the Timberwolves to begin heading in the right direction. A mindset change is needed for Towns. He has the physical characteristics and athleticism to make a difference defensively, but chooses to play a lazy brand of basketball in the paint.
If you’re a Timberwolves’ fan, you undoubtedly have to be frustrated with him in that regard. Offensively, Towns has been doing his part with an average of 19 points on 41.4% shooting from the field. Towns has been on the injury report since December 27 with a wrist injury. No word on when he will return, but he will not be active tonight.
The offense could be playing better for the Timberwolves, but that could change in a hurry for them. They’ve scored an average of 106.2 points per game for 25th in the NBA. However, I’m not so confident in a quick fix for the defense in Minnesota. They have scored 109 points in back-to-back games, including in the 124-109 loss against the Nuggets. The Nuggets have been susceptible defensively to open the season, with 116 points against per game. That’s good for 23rd in the league.
The Nuggets have been treading water on the court so far in the 2020-21 campaign. Note that they’ve netted the same with 116 scores per game. The Nuggets are 7th in the NBA offensively, spearheaded by Jokic’s 22.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, and a whopping 12.8 assists per game. The Serbian is doing his part, but needs some help on defense from his teammates. There has been an average of 238.5 points scored in their previous two meetings versus the Timberwolves. I don’t know if it gets to 238, but at least 228 points looks attainable.