Sunday NBA Best Bets: Our Staff’s Favorite Picks for Timberwolves vs. Knicks, Thunder vs. Cavaliers (Sunday, Feb. 21)
Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Immanuel Quickley.
- Our NBA analysts are honing in on two matchups during Sunday's eight-game slate: Timberwolves vs. Knicks and Thunder vs. Cavaliers.
- Check out their full breakdowns and picks below.
Sunday’s NBA slate tips off at 3:30 p.m. ET with Celtics vs. Pelicans and features seven additional games later in the day.
Our staff is finding betting value on two of the later matchups: Timberwolves vs. Knicks and Thunder vs. Cavaliers.
NBA Odds & Picks
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. New York Knicks
Kenny Ducey: The Knicks deserve better than this line. The owners of one of the league’s top defenses, New York will welcome one of the worst offenses and worst defenses in the NBA to Madison Square Garden. Despite an up-and-down beginning to the year, this team has surely done enough to separate itself from the very bottom of the league.
I’m looking at the matchup in the paint between Karl-Anthony Towns and the Knicks’ frontcourt. New York has allowed the third-fewest points in the paint this year with just 42.1 per game, and even though the team is missing Mitchell Robinson, Nerlens Noel has done more than enough to make up for him on the defensive end.
The Knicks should be able to neutralize KAT, and this banged-up group of guards — without D’Angelo Russell once again — will struggle against one of the league’s elite 3-point defenses.
The Knicks have covered in four of their last five games, and over that span they’ve ranked 12th in 3-point shooting, an area where Minnesota has struggled this season on defense. The Timberwolves have also ranked 23rd in the NBA in the last five with a resounding 50.4 points per game allowed in the paint.
With well-rested legs after the postponement of Saturday’s game, New York should be able to play its brand of basketball, which is shooting the 3 and probing in the paint with Julius Randle and its collection of slashing guards. I think this weak defense will succumb to the talented offensive players New York possesses. I’d bet this to -4.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Raheem Palmer: My projections make this game Thunder -4.14, so from my point of view, this number is short.
At this point it makes sense to continue fading the Cavaliers, as they might be the worst team in the NBA this season. Even with the excitement surrounding the Sexland guard duo featuring Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, the Cavs are currently in a complete tailspin, losing 10 straight games and 12 out of their last 13. They aren’t just losing these games either, they’re not even remotely competitive, losing these 12 games by an average of 19.9 points per game.
This losing streak coincided with the loss of Larry Nance Jr., who anchored a Cavaliers team that was previously top 10 in Defensive Rating. With Nance on the floor, the Cavaliers had a Defensive Rating of 108.5. With him off the floor, the Cavs are allowing a whopping 119 points per 100 possessions.
The Cavaliers have always struggled to score, but this is now a team who can’t score or defend. Over the past two weeks, the Cavaliers are 29th in Offensive Rating, scoring just 105.9 points per 100 possessions, and 30th in Defensive Rating, allowing 130.2 points per 100 possessions, which would eclipse the rating of the best Offensive Rating of all time by 15 points.
With the Cavaliers removing Andre Drummond from the lineup in order to trade him, they’re even more shorthanded with injuries to Taurean Prince (ankle) and Matthew Dellavedova (concussion).
Overall, this is more of a fade of the Cavaliers than a play on the Thunder. Still, the Thunder have proven to be a scrappy young team who have been competitive in every game even when they’re overmatched.
Despite losing six of their last seven games, they’ve faced a tough schedule, playing against the Lakers (2x), Nuggets, Bucks (2x), Blazers and Grizzlies, and they’ve covered four of the seven games even with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missing time. The Oklahoma City Thunder are a much better team than the Cleveland Cavaliers, so look for them win and cover this game. I’ll play this at -2 but would bet this up to -3.5.