Celtics vs. Timberwolves NBA Preview and Pick For March 8th
The Houston Rockets pulled out their 17th straight win on Wednesday, helping me to snap a nasty losing streak. I did double-down with them for the Over on a low 215.5 Total, though, so I’m right back on the losing trail (53-46-2 on the year).
Thursday slows things down in the NBA betting world a bit, offering up a small five-game slate. There is not a ton for bettors to work with on this slate, but two games have a spread of -2.5 or smaller and three are priced at -7.5 or lower.
The Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder are both huge favorites at home, but they look like tricky teams to target. My favorite game figures to be the one in Minnesota, where the Timberwolves try to defend their home turf against the visiting Boston Celtics.
Minnesota is still not at full strength going into this one, as Jimmy Butler (knee) remains out. The Celtics, on the other hand, should be 100% with star point guard Kyrie Irving returning to the court:
Kyrie on tomorrow’s game: “I’m in.”
— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach)
Boston won their last game even without Irving, but with their best player back, they look like an interesting value play. The Celtics originally entered as extremely slight -1 road favorites, but Vegas has upped them to -2.5.
There are bets to consider from top to bottom, as this is a pretty playable Total and this spread is obviously not very demanding if you like the Celtics like I do.
For the Total, I like the Over just like I did last night. Boston has the best defense in the NBA and ranks 21st in pace, but Minnesota does not offer anything defensively and will be without their best defensive stopper.
On paper, Boston has an offense dynamic enough and efficient enough to excel in this spot, while the Wolves should be able to chip in enough at home to top this Total.
As for the spread, the Celtics winning by three isn’t a tall order. Boston has been elite against the spread all year long (39-24-2) and have also been impressive (13-7) ATS as road favorites. The Celtics are also just tough to beat in general, as Boston has gone 22-9 on the road this year and comes into this matchup in decent form as winners of six of their last 10 contests.
Minnesota, meanwhile, hasn’t been quite as good (30-34-2) against the spread this year. They do tend to take care of business at home (25-7) and have a nice 3-1 record ATS as home underdogs, but I’m not loving them in this setting.
From a matchup perspective, the Wolves don’t have the defense to shut the Celtics down. Karl-Anthony Towns remains an inconsistent defender down low, while Boston conversely has a nice collection of bodies to throw at him.
Up front, Kyrie Irving should have his way against Jeff Teague, while Andrew Wiggins could struggle to shoulder Minnesota’s scoring load in the face of the league’s best perimeter defense.
KAT actually destroyed the Celtics earlier this year, but it was almost like the Celtics wanted him to. Towns had his way (25 points and 23 rebound!), but Boston sold out to stifle Minnesota on the outside.
That led to Jimmy Butler scoring just 14 points and the T’Wolves collectively shooting 38% from the floor (30% from deep). Boston’s defense has been their trademark all year and they haven’t been a shaky play on the road.
If Butler were healthy and active, I’d look at this game differently. However, the Celtics have their main man back and are also still knee-deep in a dog fight for first place in the Atlantic Division (not to mention the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
This is a game the Celtics have the tools to win, should win and need to win. You can take the value with them ATS, but I’d prefer a little more safety with a straight up bet. The beauty is you don’t even lose much if you target them at My Bookie, where they’re priced at a nice -130 Moneyline tonight.
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