Wolves-Warriors Betting Guide: How Jimmy Butler’s Return Would Impact Over/Under Pick
Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jimmy Butler (23).
Betting odds: Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors
- Spread: Warriors -11.5
- Over/Under: 242.5
- Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN
>> All odds as of 12 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network app to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets
There have been four 50-point games this season, and three of them belong to players matching up tonight. The Wolves are a mess right now, with Jimmy Butler holding himself out of their last game against the Jazz. Can they rally to cover the number in Golden State or will the champs keep rolling? Our analysts are here to discuss.
Mears: Sell the Timberwolves Offense
These are weird offensive teams. Look how they rank in frequency of shots at the rim and behind the arc — the spots you want to be taking shots.
- Warriors: 30.9% (26th) at rim, 33.7% (14th) 3-point rate
- Wolves: 34.2% (23rd) at rim, 28.2% (24th) 3-point rate
The reason their offenses have been good (in the Warriors’ case) or at least average (in the Wolves’) is crazy-hot shooting: The Dubs rank first in field goal percentage at the rim and 3-point line; the Wolves are fifth in 3-point percentage.
For the Warriors, while there may be some shooting regression, I’m not going overboard in predicting that; offensive profile doesn’t matter a lot when you have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant — three of the best 10 shooters in the history of the world — on the court together.
But the Wolves are a different story.
Minnesota was just 19th in 3-point percentage last season and specifically 23rd on non-corner 3s. This year the Wolves have hit 39.6% of all their 3s and a stupid 40.1% of the non-corner ones (the harder ones). Butler has hit 48.0% of his 3s; Towns has hit 45.0% of his. Even Rose has hit nearly 40%. I’m going to sell all of those numbers in a big way.
The problem with betting the under on the total of 242.5 — which is the third-highest total since at least 2004 — is that the Dubs could easily put up 140, which then doesn’t require a whole lot of offense from the Wolves to hit the over. But I think the median outcome here is the Warriors covering and the under hitting. — Bryan Mears
Locky: Why I’m Betting the Over/Under Tonight
You may have heard that Derrick Rose had a 50-point game. It was a wild scene. Crying on the court. Champagne in the locker room. Other NBA players shouting him out on Twitter. It was the story of the night in the league.
Unfortunately, basically nothing about that game is predictive when it comes to this game against the Warriors.
Not only is Rose unlikely to repeat that performance, but the factors that led to it are frankly not going to be replicated Friday night. Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague and Tyus Jones all didn’t play, and the Timberwolves beat a Jazz team that lost Donovan Mitchell to an injury for the entire fourth quarter.
They might as well have been playing soccer or cricket if we’re trying to draw conclusions that help us in this single-game market.
What is interesting to me in the small sample so far are Jimmy Butler’s on/off court numbers. Butler plans to play against the Warriors, so the following analysis will assume he is playing.
Per Cleaning The Glass, last season (and the year before) Butler had some of the strongest on/off differentials. His teams were much better when he was playing, at both ends.
On a full-game scale, the Timberwolves put up a gaudy record last year before he was injured, and then limped to the 8-seed after the injury, so none of this is surprising.
That’s why when we all read the stories that he yelled at the GM in practice about how much they needed him to win, we all were kind of like, “Well… Jimmy’s got a point.” He is a very valuable player.
However, for whatever reason — lack of playing in preseason with teammates? General animosity towards them? Desire to leave? — Butler has been much less valuable on the court this year, especially on offense.
While the defensive on/off numbers haven’t changed much (they are 11 points per 100 possessions better with him on, which is still good), the offensive numbers, especially in the half court, have totally tanked.
When this team runs half-court offense with Butler, bad things happen. He’s in the sixth (!) percentile of all players in terms of team FG% at the rim when he’s in the game, and 13th percentile in team mid-range FG%.
Whether it’s the spacing or the shot quality that ends up happening because he is there, those are atrocious splits. Of all the spots on the floor, only corner 3s really survive his inefficiency. The team also plays slower overall with him on the court (a pace of 102.62 on court compared to 108.57 off).
The crazy thing is that Butler’s individual effective field goal percentage is very high compared to his career numbers. He’s doing his thing, but everyone else is doing worse. I guess that’s ultimately not very surprising.
To circle back to tonight, this total seems like it’s being created with some ambiguity about Butler’s presence and what that means. Pelicans-Warriors (Golden State’s last game) had almost an identical closing total of 240.5, and those teams are going to play with a faster pace than these teams are, on average.
Again, with Butler playing, the defensive efficiency difference and pace difference matters. Once there’s confirmation Butler is playing, I will be on the under here, hoping he continues to torpedo Minnesota’s offense while still helping them greatly at the other end. — Ken Barkley
Betting Trends to Know
The Warriors have won six in a row. Under Kerr, Golden State is 44-36-3 (55%) ATS when on a winning streak of six or more games.
However, when playing at home during these long winning streaks, the team has gone 16-16-1 ATS. They were just 2-8 ATS in this situation in 2017.
Golden State has won eight of their first nine games. Teams that have won more than 80% of their games like the Warriors and then are favored by double digits have gone 204-248-5 (45%) ATS since 2005. — John Ewing
At the end of the Timberwolves’ three-game homestand, Minnesota sent the team off to Golden State with a bang, shooting 58.1% from the field and scoring 128 points in their win against the Jazz. Under Tom Thibodeau, the T-Wolves have struggled mightily the game after a good shooting performance:
- 14-29 ATS (32.6%) after shooting 51%+, -16 units
- 2-6 ATS (25%) after shooting 55%+
I would be hard-pressed not to mention when the Warriors under Kerr face a team at Oracle Arena that shot above 50% from the field in its previous game, Golden State is 15-5 ATS (75%), covering the spread by 7.7 PPG. — Evan Abrams
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.