NBA Odds, Picks, Predictions: Timberwolves-Cavs, Bulls-Heat, Raptors-Nets Among Monday’s Best Bets (Feb. 28)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images: Pictured: Heat forward Jimmy Butler, Bulls guard Coby White
- A trio of favorites to cover their spreads, plus an over/under angle on Timberwolves-Cavaliers.
- Find out how our analysts are betting Bulls-Heat, Raptors-Nets and more on Monday.
- They make the case for each of their picks and predictions based on the latest NBA odds below.
NBA Odds, Picks, Predictions
Timberwolves at Cavaliers
Raheem Palmer: The Timberwolves and Cavaliers meet Monday in a matchup of young teams looking to make a playoff push. However, you could argue that the Cavaliers are trending downward recently. Despite having one of the best defenses in the league, they rank 18th in Offensive Rating over the last two weeks, scoring just 111.5 points per 100 possessions.
Outside of Darius Garland and the recently-acquired Caris LeVert, their offense struggles to score efficiently, ranking 21st in half court points per possession and in the bottom of the league in shooting percentage from every area of the floor except the paint. That’s an area the Timberwolves defend well, allowing opposing teams to shoot 64.3%, 11th in the NBA.
While the Cavaliers spent much of the season being undervalued, the betting market has caught up. Considering their offensive inconsistencies, it’s no surprise they are 0-4 against the spread (ATS) in their past four games.
The Timberwolves are coming off a 133-102 blowout loss to the 76ers one night after their thrilling 119-114 win over the Grizzlies. Aside from dealing with the newly-formed combination of Joel Embiid and James Harden, they were in a bad spot against a well-rested 76ers team and should bounce back after two days of rest.
I believe the Cavaliers’ recent offensive struggles give the Timberwolves an edge. I like them to cover up to -4.
Timberwolves at Cavaliers
Brandon Anderson: It’s been a heck of a season for the Cavs and Timberwolves, each performing far better than expectation so far. Neither team was even favored to reach the postseason, but both have been safely in the playoff picture pretty much all season.
These are two of the league’s bright young teams on the rise, but the Cavs are not on the rise at this exact moment. That’s because the injury bug has really hit Cleveland hard. Collin Sexton is already out for the season and — stop me if you’ve heard this before — recent trade acquisition Caris LeVert is also hurt again. Now Darius Garland is also out with lower back issues, perhaps from carrying the offense all season. Even Rajon Rondo is out.
That’s a whole lot of creation missing from the Cavs, and it doesn’t leave much offense left. But Cleveland is still really good at defense and might actually get better without the guys missing since they’re all neutral defenders at best and it’s pushed young Isaac Okoro into big starter minutes. Okoro hasn’t figured out how to play much NBA offense yet, but the dude can really defend. And Karl-Anthony Towns really struggled in his other game against Cleveland’s twin towers.
Cleveland already plays pretty slow, but the pace has been glacial these two post-break games without Garland as the Cavs try to grind out wins on defense. Last game played at just a 92.1 pace, per Basketball Reference, and Cavs games have averaged a total at just 193.5 points per game these last two with so many creators missing.
Minnesota is a young team that isn’t totally capable yet of enforcing its style of play on the opponent, so I expect Cleveland to slow things to a grind again and hope the D keeps it close enough to steal a win.
I’m playing the under 219 — this line is potentially off by enough that I might even look to nibble an alternate under, too. For reference, you can play under 210.5 at +200 odds or under 200.5 at +630 odds. The last Cavs game saw just 178 points. Already this season, 20 of their 60 games (33%) have stayed under 200 points, including six of 13 (46%) without Garland.
I’ll play the traditional under to 217.
Bulls at Heat
Joe Dellera: The Heat are sneaky good and are not being talked about enough. They’re the sixth-best team in Adjusted Net Rating, and even though the Bulls have been incredible lately and are second in the Eastern Conference, the Heat have the edge in this matchup.
While they’ll miss Kyle Lowry, they can make up for that difference because they’re well rounded. They’re top 10 in both Adjusted Offensive Ranking and Adjusting Defensive Rating while the Bulls are 24th in Adjusted Defensive Rating.
Moreover, Chicago’s offense is not aligned with Miami’s weaknesses.
The Heat can defend the midrange more effectively than most teams with the combination of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The Bulls do not take many 3-point shots, but this is a spot to attack the Heat considering they allow the highest frequency of 3-point shots. It’s notable that despite these attempts, though, the Heat defend the 3-point line well so these opportunities are not necessarily easy conversions.
The opposite can be said for Chicago, which allows the third-worst 3-point percentage against, and Miami has the third-best mark from long range.
We’re underselling just how good Miami is, and as incredible as DeMar DeRozan has been, I don’t think he has enough to secure a W for the Bulls.
I’ll lay the points as Miami tries to complete the season sweep of Chicago.
Raptors at Nets
Kenny Ducey: While the Nets’ trio of stars remains out (along with Joe Harris), things will continue to be depressing.
The month of February has seen Brooklyn fall apart on both ends of the floor, ranking 21st in offensive efficiency with just 108.7 points per 100 possessions with 118 allowed per 100 on the other side of the ball to rank 29th of 30 teams.
I get it — Toronto hasn’t had the most imposing offense in the world and has managed to win just one game in its last five. Those losses came to Denver, New Orleans, Charlotte and Atlanta, though, which are all quality opponents. This is a perfect bounce-back opportunity for a team which was the talk of the league just prior to the All-Star break.
This line simply isn’t fair to the Raptors, who have a wealth of talent and ran into a tough part of their schedule. It also seems to indicate there’s a very real chance Fred VanVleet misses this game, but this is a great spot for Toronto even without him. In that case, it could be wise to wait for word on VanVleet to see if you can get a better number, but I’m comfortable laying the points.
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