Pelicans vs. Timberwolves: Back Minnesota in Big Home Spot

Action Network contributor Chris Baker previews Sunday's NBA game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves and offers up a best bet.

Pelicans vs. Timberwolves Odds

Pelicans Odds +3.5
Timberwolves Odds -3.5
Over/Under 230.5
Time 3:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The battle for the eighth seed in the Western Conference will take place in Minnesota on Easter. The Pelicans and Timberwolves are vying for playoff positioning so this game projects to be ultra-competitive. Who has the edge in what should be a playoff atmosphere today? Let’s break it down.

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New Orleans Pelicans

This is a massive game for the Pelicans as a win basically guarantees them at least the No. 8 seed. The Pelicans have split two games against the Timberwolves this season, most recently losing to them by nine on January 25th.

The Pelicans shot horribly in that game and made just 31% of their 3s, while shooting 50.6% from the field. Despite the poor shooting, one could make a case that New Orleans’ offensive process was slightly better as it attempted 41% of its shots from three.

Generating clean looks from deep has been a massive issue all season for the Pelicans. New Orleans ranks 28th in 3-point attempt rate (31.4%) and 26th in corner-3 attempt rate. The Timberwolves have begun to play even bigger with Karl-Anthony Towns’ return to the lineup, so expect the Pelicans to continue to generate 3s in this matchup.

This will need to be a massive CJ McCollum game as he most consistently draws the easiest matchups. The Timberwolves have a plethora of solid wing defenders to throw at Brandon Ingram. Between Jaden McDaniels, Anthony Edwards and Kyle Anderson, I would expect Ingram’s efficiency to drop here. Jonas Valanciunas should also struggle a bit with the size of Rudy Gobert and Towns down-low. All of this lines up for McCollum and Trey Murphy to see more usage. I would be looking at McCollum’s point total overs as he will likely draw Mike Conley Jr. for the majority of the game.

Minnesota Timberwolves

A win here would tie the Timberwolves with the Pelicans for the No. 8 seed, so this game obviously has huge implications for playoff seeding. The Timberwolves have the tiebreaker, so this would actually catapult them into the top eight.

This is the second night of a back-to-back, but none of Minnesota’s players exceeded 30 minutes in a blowout win over the Spurs. This is an interesting matchup for the Wolves offense as they face a Pelicans defense that ranks ninth in rim rate allowed, but 30th in rim-rate accuracy allowed. The Pelicans do a solid job of forcing teams to take outside shots, but lack consistent rim-protection with Valanciunas at the five.

I expect the Pelicans to give up plenty of 3s as they make a concerted effort to wall up against Edwards and Towns. New Orleans’ defense ranks 25th in 3-point attempt rate allowed and 23rd in corner-3 point attempt rate. I would expect guys like McDaniels and Anderson to get a bunch of open looks from three. The Timberwolves offensive efficiency is going to come down to whether they are able to consistently drill outside looks. The T’wolves rank 12th in 3-point accuracy and 14th in attempt rate on the season.

Pelicans-Timberwolves Pick

The Timberwolves have a ton of competent wings they can throw at Ingram and I don’t necessarily trust McCollum to carry the load on offense. I think the Timberwolves have a more repeatable offense with Conley/Gobert/Towns pick-and-rolls, and they also have a better ability to space the Pelicans out than vice-versa. I’ll back the Timberwolves at -3.5 at home in what it is arguably their biggest game of the season. Play this up to -4.