The Washington Wizards will take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night in the NBA.
The Wizards (12-18, 5-9 home) seem to have finally figured things out and are back in the playoff race following a horrific start to the season. It took some time for the team to jell with the new partnership of Beal and Westbrook, but now Washington has won 6 of its last 7 games – against good teams too, like the Nuggets (twice), Celtics, Blazers or Lakers. Their only loss during this run came against a full strength Clippers side, on the road.
The Wolves (7-26, 3-15 away) have now lost 10 of their last 11 and continue their quest to end up with the worst record in the NBA – which they currently own quite comfortably. The team just isn’t very good, and also struggles with injuries all season – they got a bit healthier for a while, but it didn’t impact results, and now they have issues again with missing players.
Injury report: The Wizards have no new injury concerns outside of Bertrans, who is questionable. Smith and Bryant are out long term. As for the Timberwolves, they will continue to miss their second best player Russell, but now they will also have to do without Beasley. He was one of the very few bright spots for the Wolves with his 41% three point shooting and is actually their leading scorer this year! He is a huge absence.
The Wizards return at home after a 4 game road trip in the West, so maybe that’s why the bookies aren’t pricing them too low (1.55 seems quite excellent to me), but it shouldn’t be an issue. The road trip wasn’t long, and the Wizards had a day to rest on Friday.
I think the Wizards have played well over a long enough period of time to prove that this is their real level, and they have been trustworthy in the past two weeks. They still have ground to cover after their bad start, so they need any win they can get and lossing at home against the lowly Wolves would be a disaster for their playoff aspirations.
Minny will probably put on a fight, like always, but they just don’t play well and don’t have enough talent, especially with Russel and Beasley out. They made a coaching change at the beginning of the week, but you can’t expect that to have an impact in the short term.
I’m very happy to back the Wizards with 9/10 stakes at these odds. Prediction: Washington Wizards – Minnesota Timberwolves 122 – 112.
* note: initially I made a mistake writing “Timberwolves” as the pick, but I obviously meant “Wizards” and was later edited.