The NBA rolls on Wednesday with five scheduled games. The Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets will get us started in New York tonight. That’s the spotlight game of the evening between the 7-1 76ers and 4-4 Nets. It would have been a much bigger game if Kevin Durant was participating. Durant is isolating at the moment for seven days because of contact tracing.
The NBA was really hoping they were going to get Joel Embiid and Durant on Wednesday night, but it’s better than a full blown outbreak and a team having to miss games. No matter what your opinion is, teams won’t be able to play if Covid-19 makes it through a locker room. Fortunately, the NBA has done a pretty fine job in preventing that from happening.
It might not catch the attention of casual NBA fans, but I’m looking forward to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trail Blazers in the late night game. The Timberwolves look liked they were going to steal a win against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, but that didn’t go the way they hoped. After getting ahead early, the disappointing Timberwolves’ defense failed to step up. The Nuggets got hot and completed the comeback for a 123-116 win.
The Timberwolves exploded in the second quarter to outscore the Nuggets by a score of 43-28 to take the lead at halftime. However, a lackluster 30-20 fourth quarter in favor of the Nuggets, resulted in their fifth loss of the season. The Timberwolves go into Thursday with a record of 2-5. They are losers in five straight games following a win over the Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz to open the season. A 127-91 loss against the LA Lakers quickly changed the narrative for the Timberwolves.
They have another tricky matchup on Thursday against a Trail Blazers team that might be looking for somebody to beat up after a couple of disappointing outings. The Trail Blazers fell victim to a red-hot Steph Curry on Sunday in a 137-122 loss, and then had a letdown against the Chicago Bulls, 111-108, after the Blazers had nothing left in the tank in their return home. Head below for our free Timberwolves vs. Trail Blazers pick on January 7, 2021.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Portland Trail Blazers NBA Betting Odds:
Timberwolves vs. Trail Blazers Prediction:
The Timberwolves had their stroke working against the Nuggets in the second quarter, but a 22-point first and 20-point fourth quarter did them in. That’s essentially been the story of the year for the Timberwolves. They’ve been plagued by streaky shooting, with their games basically coming down to D’Angelo Russell.
With Karl-Anthony Towns sitting on the shelf with a wrist injury, the Timberwolves run through the former Laker. Russell has netted 19.1 points 5.4 assists per game with his new team. He’s stepped up in the absence of Towns, and coming off a big 33-point performance.
The Timberwolves need to work on improving their defense, and Towns was doing nothing to help in that regard. Small progress has been noted, as Towns has been more aggressive as in the past. However, he really needs to blossom as a defender before the Timberwolves begin to make strides. Minnesota has allowed an average of 120 points per game.
There aren’t many teams worse than that in the NBA. The 120 points they’ve given up is good for 28th in the league. Opposing teams are shooting better than 50% from the field against the Timberwolves. I worry how they’re going to hold up against a Portland team likely going to do damage off two bad losses. Portland has scored an average of 114.4 points per game for 10th in the NBA.
They have multiple angles of attack on their roster, though the Blazers weren’t at their best against the Bulls. The offense was clicking against the Warriors, but no one could defend Steph. If the Timberwolves are going to hang around in this game, like they did against the Nuggets, it’s going to come via another big game from Russell. The Blazers defense hasn’t been that much better than Minnesota so far this season. They’ve gotten touched up for 118.1 points a game for 25th in the league. A high-scoring final score is certainly a good possibility in this one.