All of the gambling articles two years ago spoke about the resiliency of the Minnesota Timberwolves and how they were an incredible 70%+ against the spread (ATS) off of a loss. With personnel problems last year, their resiliency lacked. Changes were made this season to put them back at the top.With the NBA in its six-division alignment, the Timberwolves have an easy trip to the playoffs.
Easy if chemistry doesn't tie them down like it did last year. So Kevin McHale did away with Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell, brought in Sonics assistant Dwayne Casey to be head coach and gave Marko Jaric control of PG. All has worked out perfectly so far; the Timberwolves are reaping the rewards with their 12-6 record.
Can it hold?.Many players are playing great and better than they were last year, mainly Kevin Garnett whose 22.0 PPG, 10.3 RPG and 4.
8 APG make him an MVP candidate. Szczerbiak is scoring 17.4 from his 15.5 last year, Hudson is up to12.4 from 8.
7 last year and even Michael Olowakandi is scoring more with 7.6 a game. So much was placed on Sprewell and Cassell last year, who scored a tiny combined 25.7 PPG last year.
The biggest need for improvement so far is Marko Jaric who is producing 10.2 PPG, but is being out-assisted by Garnett. Their two draft-picks, G Bracey Wright and C Dwayne Jones, have developed so slowly that they became the first NBA players to ever to be sent down to their NBA D-League affiliate. KG isn't getting much help on the glass; although he is getting double-digit rebounds the T'Wolves are 28th in the League in rebounding.
For whatever reason, Minnesota felt compelled to give Nikoloz Tskitishvili a contract and he's now asking to be traded since coach Casey hasn't played him once this year.The team is producing and playing better than last year when Cassell and Sprewell hampered the team to its doom. Jaric isn't getting as many assists as he should, but at least he is taking care of the ball with the Wolves turning it over just 13.1 times a game. Casey has brought a far better defense than last year when they allowed a mediocre 95.
3 PPG. This year they're 3rd in Points Allowed, forcing their opponent to just 91.2 PPG.
The Wolves rely heavily on Kevin Garnett. If he happens to get injured or is traded away later in the year you can kiss Minnesota out of the postseason. They aren't particularly deep in any position especially Center. But Minnesota is playing a controlled fluid game that they just didn't produce last year. Portland, Seattle, Utah and Denver have been last-place playoff teams at best for the last few years.
We know that Minnesota can make the playoffs since a similar version of this team won the #1 seed two years ago. We don't know if they can do it without Sprewell and Cassell. Nonetheless, they are playing substantially better right now than at any point last year.
If it continues, they are an easy playoff team..Read the latest gambling articles on football, basketball, and baseball.
By: David Pincus