NBA Play-In Tournament 2023: Thunder vs. Timberwolves odds, predictions and best bets
The NBA Play-In Tournament has provided us with a lot of excitement already, and we're looking forward to this matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, April 14th. The winner of this game will be the eighth seed in the Western Conference and take on the top-seeded Denver Nuggets. Jonathan Von Tobel will be previewing every NBA series that these NBA Playoffs have to offer, so make sure you check out what he has to say for all of these intriguing matchups. However, we're also doing some head-to-head previews, while continuing to give you your usual dose of NBA best bets and player props. Keep reading as we dive into this battle, which features two teams that just want to keep competing.
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Thunder at Timberwolves betting odds
Timberwolves -5 / Total: 227.5
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Thunder at Timberwolves Spread Analysis
Rudy Gobert is likely to return from his one-game suspension and take part in Friday night’s Play-In game against the Thunder. However, if you don’t want to take my word for it, you can always check out our new VSiN NBA Injury Report page.
Gobert is one of the best interior defenders in basketball, so one would think his return would be a good thing for Minnesota. But Karl-Anthony Towns was tremendous playing center for the Timberwolves last game, and the two of them might have trouble defending the Thunder’s five-out offense. The fit between the two bigs has been awkward all season long, and that’s a generous way of putting it. Minnesota is at its best with Kyle Anderson and Jaden McDaniels playing alongside one of those two centers. But we won’t be seeing any of that on Friday, as McDaniels broke his hand punching a wall last weekend. And Minnesota pays Gobert and Towns too much money to be sitting either of them late in games.
With the Timberwolves likely stuck playing the two big men together, the Thunder are going to try and spread them out and launch a lot of triples. And if guys like Luguentz Dort and Jalen Williams are comfortably hitting their open shots, then Minnesota is going to be in all sorts of trouble.
Another thing that’s concerning for the Timberwolves is that Anthony Edwards looked pretty banged up last game. The 21-year-old averaged 24.6 points per game during the regular season, but he had just nine points on 3-of-17 shooting from the field and 0-of-9 shooting from deep in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. If he doesn’t quickly get himself right, this game could get out of hand in a hurry. Minnesota has no chance of winning this game without Edwards looking like his usual self.
Look for this to be another game in which Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey play well for Oklahoma City. Gilgeous-Alexander had 32 points in the win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, while Giddey had 31 points, 10 assists and nine boards in that game. These two badly want to play some postseason basketball this year, and they fully believe they’re capable of doing some damage if they get a chance.
We should also note that the road team was 4-0 against the spread in the four regular season meetings between these teams this season. And the Thunder won’t be intimidated playing in Minnesota after having already went on the road and defeated the Pelicans in New Orleans. Oklahoma City also happens to be 15-6 ATS when facing teams that shoot at least 48.0% from the field this year, and the Thunder won those games by an average of 3.5 points per game.
It's also worth mentioning that Oklahoma City is 8-0 ATS under head coach Mark Daigneault when playing on the road against an opponent it lost to by three or fewer points in a previous meeting. Daigneault doesn’t get the love he deserves because he coaches in a small market, but he’s a brilliant head coach and he’ll have his team prepared for this game.
Thunder at Timberwolves Total Analysis
These were two top-10 teams in the NBA when it came to pace of play during the regular season. Oklahoma City was up at third, while Minnesota was seventh. And the Thunder could look to play even faster in this one, as they’ll have opportunities to score easily if they beat Towns and Gobert down the floor. On the flip side, the Timberwolves will have some chances to get easy buckets by dumping it inside to Towns or Gobert in half-court situations.
If Edwards doesn’t completely poop the bed again, this should end up being a relatively high-scoring game. Oklahoma City just has so many players that can create off the dribble, and this Minnesota defense might not have an answer for that. And if the Thunder are lighting it up, the Timberwolves will be forced to try and keep pace with them. That’ll lead to some more rim pressure from Edwards, who has the ability to score in a hurry.
Thunder at Timberwolves Best Bet
Another Play-In Tournament game, another best bet in which we’re taking the points. There isn’t much that separates these two teams, but the Thunder have a little more firepower on the perimeter. That’s hard to ignore in a win-or-go-home scenario, and the same goes for the fact that these Oklahoma City players seemingly enjoy playing with one another. Can you say the same about Minnesota? Take the points, sprinkle the moneyline and enjoy watching Gilgeous-Alexander go to work off the dribble.
Pick: Thunder +5 (-110)
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