New Orleans Pelicans vs Minnesota Timberwolves

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans take on the Minnesota Timberwolves in Saturday night NBA action from the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, beginning at 8 pm EST. Currently, the Pelicans are favored by 7-points while the total stands at 224-points, up from 223.5-points at the opening.

The Pelicans continue to be on the downward slide in dropped 4 of 5 games, including 2-straight, after falling for the 2nd-straight time to the Utah Jazz in their 2-game road set Thursday night. And while the Pelicans were able to post 43 points in the 1st period to obtain a 12-point lead, they soon relinquished this lead in the 2nd (outscored 39-26) while being outscored in the 2nd-half by a 59-49 margin. Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram has efficient nights from the floor, however, with Ingram connecting on 4 of 6 3-pointers in the loss as the Pelicans shot very well as a team, yet committed 17 turnovers in addition to allowing over 50% shooting to the Jazz, including 17 from deep. New Orleans also failed to cover the spread as 6.5-point dogs and have failed to cover in 3 of their last 4.

The Minnesota Timberwolves enter this contest dropping 3-straight as they were edged at home by the Orlando Magic Wednesday night on a last-second shot by Magic guard Cole Anthony. And despite hitting 15 3-pointers, the Timberwolves were less than stellar from the floor in the contest shooting just 42% as a team while being outrebounded by a 48-43 margin. Karl Anthony-Towns did not suit up for this game and is expected out until early February due to a wrist injury. Despite the loss, Minnesota was able to halt a 2-game skid against the spread to cover as 4-point dogs, bringing their record to 3-2 ATS in their last 5 games.

New Orleans has picked up wins in 3 of their last 4 versus the Timberwolves, including 2-straight at the Target Center. And while the Pelicans have won against the spread in 2 of 3 versus Minnesota, the Timberwolves are 7-3 ATS in the last 10, overall, including 4 of their last 6 at home.

Pelican’s defense awful in loss to Jazz

New Orleans began their season ranking as one of the best defensive teams in the league; However, this has changed as of late as the team has not only dropped 7 of their last 8 games, but has allowed 123 on average during this time. After a slow start, Utah was able to torch the Pelicans on the perimeter in their last matchup with Donovan Mitchell leading the way with 36 points while going 6-8 from deep. Important to note that New Orleans has had issues defending the long-ball during their downward sliding giving up 38% shooting in this area to opponents. And while the Timberwolves rank as one of the worst shooting teams in the league, they are coming off a night where they posted 15 treys to shoot 43% from the arc.

Offensively, Ingram (23 ppg, 6 rebs) and Williamson (24 ppg, 8 rebs) have been huge pieces for New Orleans throughout the season while guard Eric Bledsoe (11 ppg) continues to struggle posting single digits in 5 of his last 6 outings. Lonzo Ball (12 ppg, 5 ass) has also struggled with consistency as of late while shooting just 38% from the floor on the year (28% from long-range). Furthermore, the 2 guards have accounted for a total of 66 of the team’s turnovers through 14 games. JJ Reddick (9 ppg) remains a threat on the perimeter, yet is shooting the lowest of his career from the floor as well as from deep this year.

However, versus the Timberwolves, the Pelicans seem to come alive on the offensive end of the floor posting an average of 128 points in their last 2 meetings, including 120 in a 13-point win March of last year. In this contest, Williamson dominated to lead the team with 23 points and 7 rebounds while Ball went 4-8 from the arc for 18 points and 7 dimes. Ingram shot 50% to finish with 15 points and 12 boards (7 assists) as the Pelicans shot 49% in the win. Important to add, however, that the team ended with 25 turnovers, 7 by Ball along with 5 from Ingram.

Shorthanded Timberwolves desperately in need of a win

Due to a wrist injury and COVID-19, Anthony-Towns has only suited up for 4 games this season. However, even in minimal play, the center has shown his overall worth to the team in averaging 22 points, 12 rebounds, along with just under 3 blocks during these contests, including 4-straight double-doubles. Now, with the center being out until next month, the Timberwolves need to find additional consistent scoring if they are to somehow rise out of a current losing skid which has seen them dropped 8 of 9 games, including 5 of their last 6 outings at the Target Center.

Guards D’Angelo Russell (21 ppg) posted 19 in their loss to the Magic while averaging 25 points in the last 4 games for Minnesota. Russell is also making 40% of his shots from long-range, including going 4-7 versus Orlando. Malik Beasley (19 ppg) has also been a beast from long-range as well connecting on 38% this year, despite a less than stellar performance in his last time out in posting 13 points (5-15 FG/3-10 3FG). However, the team needs an additional scorer to step up and provide some scoring for a team that is averaging just 106 points per game on a dismal 43% shooting.

Russell and Beasley led the pack with 21 and 10 points, respectively, in their last outing versus the Pelicans; However, they combined to go just 14-38 from the field along with 4-14 from long-range as the Timberwolves stunk it up in finishing at 39% shooting as a team in addition to making good on 8 of 33 attempts from deep. To make matters worse, they committed 17 turnovers, 5 by Russell while being outrebounded by a margin of 54-42.

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet
Rating:

While I have tried to give myself a reason to take the home team and the points in this matchup, the fact of the matter is that the Timberwolves are in terrible shape at this point in the season.  Anthony-Towns will be out for the foreseeable future and while Russell and Beasley have tried their best to keep the team in games, Minnesota has gotten very little for each of the other ballers on the team.  And while the Pelicans have struggled as well leading into this contest, they are winners of 8 of their last 9 as road favorites, leading me to side with the road team.

Prediction:
New Orleans Pelicans -7

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Full-Game Total Pick
Rating:

Again, these are 2 of the worst defensive teams in the league.  The over has also been the result in all but 2 of their last 10 outings for New Orleans in addition to also being 4-2 in the last 6 home games for the Timberwolves.  In all, expect an up and down contest throughout amongst these squads who will be fighting tooth and nail to add a win to their less than stellar records as I certainly see the over being the play.

Prediction:
Over 224