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Game Preview: Timberwolves vs 76ers

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Minnesota hosts the Embiid-less Sixers

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Wolves vs Sixers -8, O/U 225

7:00pm CST

FS North / WCCO Radio

Tonight could be a long night for the Timberwolves, with the last-minute update that Joel Embiid is expected to play. This is good news for Embiid’s health, as there is very little chance that Doc Rivers would play Embiid in this game unless he were 100% healthy.

Embiid is a legitimate MVP candidate this year, and for good reason. The Sixers have the best record in the East, and his overall impact is evidenced by the fact that Philly is a +11.8 with Embiid on the floor, and a -6.4 when he’s off. That is a massive swing. This is of course in addition the his 28/11/3/1.2/1.4 traditional line.

Where this really hurts Minnesota more than other teams is that the Wolves are already bad at finishing at the rim, and now they will end up having to face one of the best rim protectors in the NBA. Embiid and Ben Simmons are an absolute terror of a duo on the defensive end.

Of course, this is not to mention that Minnesota will be without Naz Reid, which means they’ll only have one real center (Ed Davis) to throw at Embiid on the other end of the floor. I’d expect a lot of double-teams tonight.

The good thing for Minnesota is that D’Angelo Russell is back, and he’s a player who can potentially score from the mid-range when Philly employs drop-coverage with Embiid. It’s rarely the case, but for Minnesota, they may be better off pulling up than attacking Embiid.

Really, for the Wolves, all I’m asking for is a glimpse of competency. The performances of late have just been so futile that, even with the big absences of their best players, it’s been hard to get too excited about much of anything.

I just want to see the team get a bit more creative on offense than spamming hand-offs and PnR. I want to see everyone follow the lead of Jarred Vanderbilt, Josh Okogie, and Malik Beasley in terms of effort and hustle. And more than anything, I just want to see the Timberwolves be competitive.

Winner of the Day

I included a little bit of gambling fun in my previews during the 2018-19 season as a way to stay entertained during a lost season, and I’m bringing it back this year. Some nights it’ll be a simple spread or over/under pick, some nights it’ll be a fun player prop. Who really knows.

My last pick was back in the second Spurs game, where taking the over on D’Angelo Russell’s points prop proved to be profitable. We’re now 1-2, with a shot to get back to .500 tonight.

As always, this is merely for fun, and is in no way a recommendation on what to gamble on, or to gamble at all. (If you have a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER).

The pick: Malik Beasley over 19.5 points (-115)

D’Angelo Russell comes back tonight, which should open things up a bit for Beasley. The Timberwolves shooting guard is best coming off of screens and hand-offs, and with Russell back in those actions will be a bit more available. Additionally, Ben Simmons figures to spend most of his evening taking Russell (or Edwards, maybe?), and Danny Green has had trouble staying attached to shooters so far this year. I think NBA Star Malik Beasley has a big night to keep the Wolves competitive.

Projected Lineups

Wolves

D’Angelo Russell

Malik Beasley

Anthony Edwards

Josh Okogie

Ed Davis

Sixers

Ben Simmons

Seth Curry

Danny Green

Tobias Harris

Joel Embiid