NBA Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Lakers vs. Timberwolves, Raptors vs. Bucks (Tuesday, Feb. 16)
Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Tuesday’s light NBA slate offers just six games, including two national TV matchups: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Memphis Grizzlies (8 p.m. ET on TNT) and Brooklyn Nets vs. Phoenix Suns (10:30 p.m. ET on TNT).
What it apparently will not offer is much defense — at least according to our NBA analysts. They are backing the over on two other matchups on Tuesday night’s slate, including the game with the highest over/under on the board.
You can check out their analysis and picks on those matchups below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
Brandon Anderson: Tonight the Timberwolves face off against the team that once roamed the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota, and the two teams could not be farther apart.
If you closed your eyes and picked any season in NBA history with a dart throw, chances are that it would look a lot like this one. The Los Angeles Lakers are near the top of the standings, contending for another championship, while the Wolves are right down at the bottom, floundering like usual.
Heck, even best season for the Wolves, aka the season they won a playoff series, ended in the Western Conference Finals at the hands of — you guessed it — the Lakers.
This season, the Lakers are 21-7, while the Wolves are a near inverse 7-20. Those records don’t quite tell the whole story, of course. Karl-Anthony Towns has played just seven games, and Minnesota goes from devastatingly awful without him to just bad with him. Meanwhile, the Lakers will be without Anthony Davis now, for at least the next few weeks.
The Timberwolves don’t play much defense. Wolves games tend to be fast-paced and high scoring, and that’s even more prevalent with Towns back in the lineup. KAT’s presence means more scoring for Minnesota with a far improved offense, and unfortunately it also means more points allowed on the defensive end.
Towns could have a big game without Davis’ stifling defense impeding him all game. LA will presumably replace Brow’s minutes with Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell. Kuzma has improved as a defender, but he’s nothing like Davis, and Harrell can be a train wreck on that end at times.
The Lakers have gone over in five straight, while the Wolves have gone over in four of their past five. I’m sticking with the recent trends and the direction these teams are going and grabbing another over here.
This should be a bit faster and less defensive than typical Lakers games have been, and LA will have no problem racking up points against Minnesota, even without Davis. There should be plenty of points, and I’d play the over to 223.5.
Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Raheem Palmer: This total has already taken some money and got streamed up from the opener of 234, however I’m not sure it’s enough. My projections make this game 238 and this feels like game that is mispriced based on several factors.
Jrue Holiday remains sidelined for the Bucks after testing positive for COVID-19 and his absence has had a noticeable impact on this defense. The Bucks are +3.5 points better per 100 possessions defensively with him on the floor, according to NBA Advanced Stats, while the offense doesn’t take much of a major hit with Donte DiVincenzo in the lineup.
The Bucks defense has already taken a hit this season, ranking 13th and giving up 110.4 points per 100 possessions, but over the past four games without Holiday, the Bucks are 24th in Defensive Rating allowing 119.1 points per 100 possessions. They gave up 1112, 125, 129, and 114 to the Nuggets, Suns, Jazz and Thunder.
Even more problematic, the Bucks’ defensive scheme, which protects the rim and gives up the fifth-highest percentage of 3-point field goal attempts (38.3%), fits the Raptors’ scheme — they shoot 41.5% of their attempts from behind the arc, also fifth-highest in the league.
When you consider that the Bucks are 29th in Opponent 3- point Percentage, allowing opposing teams to shoot a whopping 39.8% from deep, it’s clear the Raptors will be able to score in this matchup. In the absence of OG Anunoby over the past 10 games, this three guard lineup with Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell has scored 119.4 points per 100 possessions.
Toronto’s offense is rolling, however, we can’t say the same for their defense, which is giving up 116.6 points per 100 possessions over the past two weeks (they’ve given up fewer than 113 points just once during the past 10 games).
Without Anunoby out of the lineup the Raptors have one less defender with a shot at defending Giannis Antetokounmpo. With the Bucks reeling after three straight losses you have to expect a huge game from the two-time MVP.
Looking at the pace of this game, the Raptors have played the ninth-fastest Pace (100.45) in the league during the past 10 games without Anunoby in the lineup while the Bucks are sixth in Pace (101.83) this season. Overall, I think this total is short. I like the Over 235.5 and would play this up to 237.