Timberwolves vs 76ers Prediction, Pick Today | Wednesday, Dec. 20

Timberwolves vs 76ers Prediction, Pick Today | Wednesday, Dec. 20 article feature image
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Tyrese Maxey #0 of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles the ball while Anthony Edwards #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves defends in the third quarter at Target Center. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

Timberwolves vs. 76ers Prediction, Picks for Wednesday, Dec. 20

Wednesday, Dec. 20
7 p.m.
NBA TV
Alt Total Over 224.5

Here's everything you need to know about Timberwolves vs. 76ers on Wednesday, Dec. 20 — our expert prediction and betting picks for today.

The 76ers will try to return to their winning ways when they host the Timberwolves on Wednesday night. Philadelphia snapped a six-game winning streak with a 108-104 at home to Chicago despite closing as a -10.5-point favorite.

As for the Timberwolves, they've picked three straight wins to improve to a league-best 20-5 mark.

This is the second and final regular-season meeting between the two teams after Wolves held serve at home with a 112-99 victory. However, a closer look at the box score suggests that the result might be misleading.

I'll expand on that and share why this observation is critical to our handicap in this rematch.

Let's get to our Timberwolves vs. 76ers prediction and pick.

Timberwolves vs. 76ers Prediction

Pick: Alt Total Over 224.5 (-125)

Timberwolves Betting Outlook

We're more than a quarter of the way into the season, and Minnesota's hot start hardly looks like a fluke anymore. This Timberwolves' ascent is primarily due to their improvement defensively.

Per TeamRankings, the Wolves have gone from allowing 110.2 points per 100 possessions last season to a league-low mark of 103.5.

When you think of the Timberwolves' defense, you immediately think of "The Stifle Tower" Rudy Gobert. However, Gobert's teammate Anthony Edwards is the one who leads all players who average at least 30 minutes per game with a 103.6 defensive rating.

There's no question the Timberwolves play a much more controlled game, ranking 22nd in Pace with 102.3 possessions per game. I suspect they could play a bit faster, but this playing style suits their veteran point guard, Mike Conley.

In his 17th season, Conley is still scoring double figures, averaging 11.3 points while dishing out 6.2 assists per game.

Thus, if it ain't broken, don't fix it. Historically, there are enough examples of teams riding a defensive wave all the way to a championship.


76ers Betting Outlook

As for the 76ers, they're a completely different kettle of fish. They boast an offense that sits atop the league in efficiency with 118.2 points per 100 possessions.

Reigning NBA MVP, Joel Embiid, is making his case for back-to-back awards this season. The six-time All-Star leads the league with 34.4 points per game.

But perhaps what's most impressive about Embiid is his 40.04 efficiency rating, which also leads the league.

And it's not like Embiid is just a big man who gets easy buckets at the rim inside the post. He can play inside and outside and even hurt opponents from behind the perimeter.

His ability to attract double and triple teams helps create open shots for his teammates. This season, he's averaging a career-high in assists with 6.0 per game—an increase of 1.8 assists per game from his previous best.

No other player with at least 10 appearances has a higher usage rate than Embiid (37.5%). To say he's vital to the 76ers' success would be the understatement of the year.


Timberwolves vs. 76ers Picks, Odds

Wednesday, Dec 20
7 p.m. ET
NBA TV
Timberwolves Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
+3
-105
226
-112o / -108u
+136
76ers Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
-3
-115
226
-112o / -108u
-162
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Despite how good the Timberwolves have been defensively, I was alarmed to see they held the 76ers under 100 points in their earlier meeting. In my attempt to uncover what transpired, I dug into the box score and wasn't surprised by what I saw.

There was no record of Embiid on the score sheet because he was inactive. The 76ers can't supplement his production with the players on their bench.

That November game against Minnesota was also the only time the 76ers failed to score in the triple digits this season. The team's playing with much more pace, averaging 103.4 possessions per game—up from 100.4 in the previous campaign.

With the 76ers as the home team, I'd expect them to dictate the game's pace a bit more.

This total opened at 224 and has been bet up as high as 226.5. However, Bet365 has the best number on the board at 225.5. Since I didn't get the best of the numbers, I'll look to play an alternate total of over 224.5, which is slightly juiced to -125.

Pick: Alt Total Over 224.5 (-125)

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