February 28, 2016 (11:00 AM ET)
Take Minnesota Timberwolves at +7 spread against Dallas Mavericks for 3% of the bankroll.
The Mavericks are a decent team but they're not the type that blows opponents out. They and the Grizzlies own the least amount of comfortable wins (by 7 or more points) among teams that are currently occupying playoff spots! Their recent rout of Philadelphia was the exception and not the norm for this deep but not overly talented squad and that of course came against the very worst team in the league. Minnesota is a much better team than the 76ers and a hugely improved one compared to last year, given that their young talent has had a lot of playing time together and has gained valuable NBA experience.
This is still going to be a battle of veterans vs. youth for the most part but the Wolves aren't as naive as they used to be and are better at closing games out now than before. Last night they put that on display again by rallying in the 4th quarter from a double-digit deficit to win the game with 2 late free-throws! It showed the tenacity and determination of a club that Kevin Garnett is basically mentoring and was admirable to watch given that Minnesota will not be making the playoff this year but continues to play hard. The fact is that even when they've lost games, they've largely been competitive and that's what we expect to see from them tonight. To win on the road is a real confidence-booster for any youthful squad, to do so in the fourth quarter, as they did last night, does even more for their self-esteem.
Not only do the Timberwolves have momentum on their side after such an impressive comeback victory, they have been shooting the ball extremely well. They've made 50% or more from the field in each of their last 3 games and while we don't necessarily expect them to reach that figure tonight, we do believe they'll be efficient once again. They've learned that despite the obvious talent of the likes of Wiggins and LaVine, they can't settle for jump-shots and need to mix that up with driving to the basket and getting to the foul line. When they allow Ricky Rubio who is a true point-guard to dictate tempo and move the ball around, this is an incredibly tough team to stop as they have numerous weapons at their disposal and own a balanced offense. They can score in the paint by posting-up through Towns and Dieng, do well from midrange and even hit them from outside especially now that Tyus Jones is the backup PG and has been getting some playing time.
Dallas has been poor defensively since the All-Star break and was very fortunate to win its last game. They were dominated by the visiting Nuggets for large portions of the game and trailed by as many as 23 points! They did fight back and mounted their own comeback but the game wouldn't have gone to overtime if it wasn't for a couple of questionable calls and selfish play by Denver's Will Barton. Then in OT, they not only won the game but covered the spread and we just don't see that happening tonight given that the line is even steeper and the T-Wolves have even more talent.
This is precisely the type of matchup that the Mavs have often won over the years but fell short in relation to the spread. It wouldn't surprise us if their superior experience allowed them to find a way to win this game but we don't believe it'll come easily and convincingly. Look for this to be a tighly contested matchup where the 7 points are extremely precious and could come into play. Minnesota is a live underdog in this spot and will be solely focused on the task at hand since they don't play again for another 3 days. They also have a score to settle with the Mavericks having dropped both prior meetings against them this season. Look for an inspired performance from an up-and-coming team that is just a bit underrated at the moment and has the ability to challenge for the outright win.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Timberwolves are 8-1 ATS after an upset win as an underdog this season!
- Mavericks are 0-4 ATS after three or more consecutive home games this season.
- Timberwolves have covered 15 of 20 spreads on the road when seeking revenge this season!
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