Wolves (25-28) at Magic (22-32)
6:00 pm CST
As of 2:00 pm today, the trade deadline has passed and everyone can focus on playing basketball again. The Wolves did literally nothing before the deadline. That’s disappointing.
Either way, apparently the goal is still to make the playoffs. If the Wolves want to do that, they need to start racking up wins in a hurry. I don’t know what management expects to change that will lead to all of those wins, but I digress.
The Wolves are in Orlando to take on the dwindling Magic. Orlando made quite the splash right before the trade deadline, acquiring former number one overall pick Markelle Fultz in exchange for Jonathon Simmons and two draft picks.
Obviously, Fultz won’t be suiting up for Orlando tonight, so the Magic may be slightly short handed.
There are a lot of intriguing pieces in Orlando, and almost none of them fit together. Mo Bamba (the player, not the song) is out for a while with a stress fracture in his leg. Aaron Gordon has shown flashes of being a really good player, but he seems to be out of position. Jonathan Isaac looks like a potential stud defensively, but he hasn’t shown much value on the other end of the floor.
Even if it were just those three guys in the plans for the front court of the future, that would be a little big log jammed. However, that isn’t the guy we haven’t mentioned yet is the best of the bunch, Nikola Vucevic.
Vuc made his first all-star team this year, and both he and Karl-Anthony Towns will find out who their teammates will be in the All-Star Game tonight.
Vuc has posted career highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and three-point percentage. He’s a stud offensively and will be a load for Minnesota to handle. If the Wolves are going to get a rare road win, it will all start by slowing down Vucevic. One positive about this matchup is that Vuc only shoots 2.7 free throws per game, so theoretically KAT should not struggle as much with foul trouble tonight.
If we’re being completely honest, this could be a pretty ugly game tonight. Outside of Vucevic and Gordon, Orlando is not very good. D.J. Augustin and Evan Fournier provide a decent shooting punch, but they are not exactly world beaters. You could make a pretty strong argument that this has been Fournier’s worst season as a pro.
For Minnesota, it would be nice to say that there’s any reliable production outside of Karl-Anthony Towns, but there really isn’t right now. Hopefully, Dario Saric can build off of his season-best performance at Memphis from Tuesday night, but the rest of the squad is still very unpredictable. Andrew Wiggins is still wildly frustrating, and you can find more on why he’s so frustrating here.
The Wolves really need to get healthy, and fast. Games like this one should be wins, but without so many key pieces every game is a battle.
Bet of the night
I’m in no way saying that you SHOULD make these bets. I’m not betting them. It’s just a fun extra thing that I’ll be tracking for the remainder of the season. All lines via Bovada.
It’s been a while since we did one of these, but we’re back. We were 1-3 on the year before I foolishly went with the over in a game involving the Memphis Grizzlies. That was a loss, but I also gave out the extra pick of the Kings -5 at home against the Hawks, which easily hit. That brings us to a not-so-sparkling 2-4 on the year. Anyways, we’re going to give it another shot tonight.
The pick: Timberwolves moneyline (+115)
The Wolves desperately need a win and didn’t experience any shakeup to the roster today, which might keep the locker room a bit more joyful. It’s a bit of a homer pick, but what do you want me to do here, pick against the Wolves? I actually think Minnesota has a solid chance to win this one tonight after their putrid performance in Memphis. I don’t think Orlando has anyone who can matchup with Towns. So long as they come out with a bit more energy than they did on Tuesday they should be alright tonight. I also just can’t admit to myself that the team I cheer for should ever be underdogs against the Magic.