Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jimmy Butler
Betting odds: Cleveland Cavaliers at Minnesota Timberwolves
- Spread: Timberwolves -8.5
- Over/Under: 223.5
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
>> All odds as of noon ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets
For the life of me, I can’t figure why Minnesota would be favored by this wide a margin given what’s going on in this game.
Some caveats: The baseline differential on this game in our power rating is 5.7, meaning that with a 3-point home-court advantage swing for Minnesota, we’re slightly over the 8.5 line.
JR Smith is out with an elbow injury, so the Cavs lose some shooting but gain some basic clock and score awareness, and Larry Nance is questionable, making an already thin frontcourt potentially even shorter.
It’s also the Wolves’ home opener, and home teams are 10-6 ATS to start this very young season. That all suggests that Minnesota should be this big of a favorite, for sure.
But I still can’t shake this line.
As an exercise this season, I’m going trying to guess the lines before they drop, and I had this at Wolves -4.5 with home court, putting them at -1.5 on neutral court.
The Wolves are a mess. Their team chemistry is a dumpster fire right now. I understand that phrase is overused and cliched at this point, but really when you look at them, that’s the best analogy.
Their chemistry is in a big pile of trash, on fire. It smells. It’s a hazard, an out-and-out disaster.
Think of this: Jimmy Butler is almost certainly going to be booed by his home fans in the season opener after requesting a trade.
Karl-Anthony Towns had six shots in the first game vs. San Antonio. Six! Derrick Rose is starting!
Cats and dogs, living together, mass hysteria.
Meanwhile, Cleveland lost by 12 on the road to the Raptors in Toronto’s super-hyped home opener with Kawhi Leonard — and that result came despite a dreadful second quarter by the Cavs (32 points allowed, minus-10 margin).
Until late in that second quarter, the Cavs were hanging. Cleveland lost hold of the rope for a minute and the Raptors ran out.
I don’t mind the Wolves’ moneyline here; they’ll most likely win this game. But if you bet 8.5, you’re making a lot of assumptions about a team that’s in pure chaos.
There appears to be a little bit of sharp money coming in on Cleveland (9% differential between money and bet percentage) with the Cavs getting the majority of cash at the time of publication.
Look, the Wolves should be the better team. That I understand. But we can’t ignore the context surrounding this game, nor should we underestimate the fight in an outgunned-but-still-talented Cavaliers team.
If the young guys can avoid the second-quarter disaster they experienced vs. the Raptors (an 18-5 Raptors run came with Sam Dekker and Cedi Osman on the floor), Cleveland’s going to give the Wolves at least a fight.
At 6.5, I’d think this was a stay-away. At 8.5, it feels like oddsmakers are putting way too much confidence in a broken team.