Timberwolves vs. Hawks NBA Odds & Pick: Back the Home Favorite in Atlanta (Monday, Jan. 18)
Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks talks to teammate John Collins #20.
- The Hawks are a sizable favorite over the Timberwolves on Monday afternoon.
- Minnesota has been predictably awful on defense to start the season, and Atlanta has the personnel to exploit that, especially with Karl-Anthony Towns out for the T'Wolves:
Timberwolves vs. Hawks Odds
|T’Wolves Odds||+7.5 [BET NOW]|
|Hawks Odds||-7.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+250 / -310 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||227 [BET NOW]|
|Time||2:30 p.m. ET|
This NBA season has been rough to start for the Minnesota Timberwolves both on and off the floor. The Timberwolves will be without their all-star center Karl-Anthony Towns when they hit the road to face the Atlanta Hawks on Monday afternoon.
Towns announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, which led to their matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies being postponed and that news could ripple into this matchup. Despite that, the line appears to be moving in the Timberwolves’ direction after opening at -8.5 at some books.
Is there value in betting the dog in Monday’s matchup, or is this number too high to cover?
After landing the No. 1 pick in the draft and bolstering the roster in the offseason, the Timberwolves looked like a team that could compete in the West if things broke right for them.
Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case. They started the season 2-0, then things went downhill fast when Towns injured his wrist and Minnesota dropped eight of its next nine games. The recent positive COVID test is yet another early-season blow.
Towns won’t be the only player missing from the Timberwolves’ rotation Monday afternoon. Ricky Rubio and Juan Hernangomez are also out due to health and safety protocols.
Of course, Towns’ absence will likely have the most impact on the rest of the team. The Timberwolves lost six of their seven games with Towns out of the lineup and went just 2-5 against the spread in those games, per our Bet Labs database. According to NBA Advanced Stats, the Timberwolves have a +6.1 Net Rating in the minutes he’s played (best among qualified players) and a -14.3 Net Rating when Towns has been on the bench.
It’s not surprising they’ve struggled without him, but the drop off is rather stark. Defensively, the Timberwolves rank 29th in points allowed per 100 possessions. Without Towns for the six-game stretch that he missed due to the wrist injury, the Wolves’ opponents averaged 127 points per game against them.
Simply put, the rest of this roster needs Towns to be even remotely competitive.
The Hawks came out of the gates hot with a 4-1 record early in the season, but have cooled considerably since then.
Many of their offseason acquisitions have been in and out of the lineup, which has made it tough for them to find a rhythm — Rajon Rondo has missed most of the season so far, Bogdon Bogdanovic is out indefinitely and Danilo Gallinari is doubtful for Monday’s game. Naturally, this has allowed Trae Young to continue to be a high usage player with the bulk of the offense running through him.
The Hawks have been middle of the pack offensively, but one area where they excel is getting out in transition. They rank in the top-10 in transition possessions per game (19.3) per NBA Advanced Stats. That’s an area where they can take advantage of the Timberwolves who allow the second-most points in transition in the NBA this season (24.5).
Defensively, the Hawks have been solid, especially when defending the 3-point line. They allow the third-lowest opponent 3-point percentage in the league (32.5%) because they typically force the worst shooters on the opposing team to take such shots. The Wolves entering this matchup as one of the most inefficient teams from behind the arc just plays into the Hawks’ hands.
If Towns were playing in this game, the matchup would be much different here. Without him, the Wolves play fast and loose (not in a good way) and they just don’t have the talent to match up.
When Towns missed his first six games this season, the Wolves failed to cover by an average of -8.6 points and most of those games closed with a double digit spread. Even if the Hawks are still trying to find their footing, I think they have enough firepower to cover this number.
I’d back the Hawks up to 8.5 here and lean toward the over with the expectation that the Timberwolves’ defense will continue to be dismal.
Pick: Hawks -7.5
Player Prop to Watch
Malik Beasley Over 5.5 Rebounds (+112)
Malik Beasley is certainly known for his streaky shooting but his rebounding has also ticked up in Minnesota for a team that plays small and fast. His 7.7% rebounding rate this year is far ahead of his 6.0% rate pre-Wolves. He’s averaging nearly 36 minutes a game over his past six, and that’s about where we expect him this afternoon.
Rebounding is often a volume game as much as anything else, and if Beasley plays that many minutes in a fast game with a ton of shots, he has big rebounding upside. Our Action Labs prop tool projects him at 7.2 rebounds, giving this prop a 25.4% edge in our favor, second highest on the entire slate today, especially at plus odds.
Anytime you can project well over the line and get one at plus odds, it’s worth a solid look. I’ll play this one to -110. – Brandon Anderson