Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#567 Minnesota Timberwolves 233.5 vs.
#568 Phoenix Suns -4
Monday, December 9, 2019 at 9:05pm EST
Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix
Written by Nick Raffoul

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#567 Minnesota
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The Minnesota Timberwolves will head on the road to Talking Stick Resort Arena on Monday night for a Western Conference matchup against the upstart Phoenix Suns.

This matchup will feature a pair of early-season surprises with newfound postseason aspirations. Minnesota will be playing on the second night of a back-to-back after taking on the L.A. Lakers at the Staples Center on Sunday. The Timberwolves are currently hanging onto the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference standings with a 10-12 overall record through their first 22 games. Meanwhile, the Suns are sitting in the eighth spot after winning 10 of their first 22 contests. Can Phoenix take advantage of the Timberwolves on the second night of a back-to-back set on Monday night?

Minnesota has no answer for Davis & LeBron

Minnesota was unable to keep up with the Lakers in a 142-125 loss in Los Angeles on Sunday night. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins finished with 19 points apiece while Josh Okogie chipped in 18 for the Timberwolves, who had no answer for LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers’ superstar duo combined for 82 points and 19 assists on 65.3 percent shooting from the floor against the Timberwolves’ defense.

The Timberwolves’ offense has been at its best this season with Andrew Wiggins as the team’s primary ballhandler. Wiggins has silenced the doubters by taking a leap forward this season. He comes in averaging 24.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game and the efficiency numbers support his progression on offense. More recently, the TWolves have opted to go without a point guard in the starting lineup, giving Wiggins more freedom with the ball in his hands on offense. That has also opened up a nifty two-man game between him and fellow No.1-overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns, who is shooting a red-hot 43.4 percent from deep this season.

Minnesota has been getting some solid production from second-year player Keita Bates Diop, who has given them a boost off the bench in recent weeks. Through 10 games, Bates Diop averaged 8.0 points on 51.7 percent shooting from the field and 46.9 percent shooting from 3-point range. Given his recent efficiency in limited minutes, it will be hard for head coach Ryan Saunders to take the former second-round pick off of the floor.

Baynes, Ayton set to return soon for Suns

Phoenix was unable to sustain its recent momentum on Saturday night, falling at home to the Houston Rockets 115-109 despite 35 points from Devin Booker. Ricky Rubio finished with 10 points and 13 assists while Dario Saric also had a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards in the loss.

The Suns have stumbled since their fast start to the season and fans have started to lose faith in the direction of the team. However, Phoenix should be getting some reinforcements on the way soon. Center Aron Baynes is expected to return to the floor for the Suns on Monday. He’s missed nine of the last 10 games with hip and calf injuries but head coach Monty Williams hinted that Baynes face a minutes limit upon his return. Meanwhile, starting center DeAndre Ayton only has four games to go on his 25-game suspension. Ayton will be eligible to return to the court on Dec. 17 versus the L.A. Clippers.

Early indications are Phoenix could be one of the teams interested in making a deal for Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love, who was recently placed on the trade block. The Suns have a pair of first-round picks in the upcoming NBA Draft and a bevy of young players on the roster. Some of the players that could be included in a potential deal for Love are Tyler Johnson, Mikal Bridges, and rookie forward Cameron Johnson.

Phoenix has started to slip on the defensive end as of late. They come in ranked sixth in the league with an offensive rating of 110.9 but they rank 19th in the league in defensive efficiency at just 109.7 through 22 games. That number has dropped to 114.3 over their last five games.

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The Timberwolves ran out of gas in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s loss to the Lakers, as they were outscored by 10 points over the final 12 minutes of action. Minnesota has too many lapses on the defensive end to consider them a serious playoff contender and they could have another tough time with the Suns in this game. Phoenix has struggled without Ayton or Baynes in the lineup as of late but that should change here. Baynes is expected to return, albeit on a minutes limit, so they should be able to hold their own in the paint. The Timberwolves showed no interest in playing defense against the Lakers and I don’t expect that to change overnight. Take Phoenix to come out on top at home in this battle between Western Conference playoff hopefuls on Monday.

Prediction: Phoenix Suns -3.5

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The Lakers-Timberwolves game totaled a whopping 267 points and we could be in for another high-scoring affair here. The Timberwolves and Suns rank No. 22 and No. 23, respectively, in defensive efficiency over their last five games. While the presence of Baynes will give Phoenix’s defense a boost, he might see only about 15-20 minutes of floor time in this one.  For the season, Minnesota ranks 4th in pace and the Suns rank ninth in the league in that category. Take this game to go over the projected total on Monday night.

Prediction: Over 234
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.