Timberwolves vs. Suns Odds
|Time||Tuesday | 10 p.m. ET|
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Phoenix has picked up right where they left off last season, entering this game riding a four game win streak and sitting in second in the Western Conference with a record of 5-1. Minnesota has gotten off to a decent start as well, having won three of their last five games and entering this matchup with an overall record of 4-3.
Last season, we saw both of these teams in the postseason, and even though the season just began, it appears that both the Suns and Timberwolves are heading in that direction once again. Does that mean we will see a competitive Western Conference matchup, or will one of these teams establish their dominance over the other?
Two Different Trends for the Timberwolves So Far
We saw the Timberwolves sneak into the playoffs last season via the play-in tournament, but they would eventually go on to lose to the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round.
However, even with the quick playoff exit, last year was the first time in a few years that the Timberwolves were competitive, and that motivated them to make some moves in the offseason with the goal of getting this team over the hump.
Minnesota’s biggest move came in the form of acquiring Rudy Gobert from the Jazz, with the goal of patching up holes on the defensive end of the floor. Gobert’s presence has done just that.
At the end of last season, the Minnesota Timberwolves owned a Defensive Rating of 111.0. Through seven games this year, we have already seen their Defensive Rating fall to 107.5, the fifth best mark in the NBA. Furthermore, Minnesota has seen their opponent’s field goal percentage fall from 46% last year to 43% this year (third in NBA), further proving that Gobert has been the defensive anchor that they thought they were going to get.
However, while the defense has improved overall, the Timberwolves appear to have lost a step on offense this season.
Even with their core four players — Karl Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, D’Angelo Russell, and Rudy Gobert — all averaging above 14 points per game, the Timberwolves are right in the middle of the pack in the NBA in points per game with 115.1. In addition, Minnesota owns an Offensive Rating of 110.1, which ranks 22nd in the NBA and is down from 113.8 a year ago.
Minnesota is relatively average across many offensive metrics, and to make matters worse, they are shooting just 31.8% from behind the arc, down from 36% a year ago. Their inefficiencies on that end of the floor will need to be figured out if they want to compete at the top of the Western Conference.
Slow and Steady for the Suns
The Phoenix Suns are once again a defensive powerhouse, which is the main reason why they find themselves at the top of the Western Conference for the third year in a row.
Phoenix enters this matchup with a Defensive Rating of 106.2, good enough for fourth in the NBA behind only Cleveland, the Lakers, and Milwaukee. We’ve seen that elite defense present itself quite often during their four-game win streak, as they have held their opponents to an average of just 105 points per game, and the Suns own a point differential of +74 in that span of time.
The biggest reason for their defensive success has been how well they defend the painted area. The Suns are allowing their opponents to score just 44.7 points per game from the paint, ninth fewest in the NBA, and at the same time are holding their opponents to just 28.2% shooting from five to nine feet away from the basket.
Combining that defense with an offense that ranks second in Offensive Rating at 118.5, is shooting 49.3 % from the floor overall, and has seven guys averaging more than nine points per game is going to cause problems for any opponent. It’s easy to see why Phoenix is once again going to be one of the favorites to win the NBA title.
Despite this matchup being filled with tons of star power, I believe that this game is going to stay under the total of 229.5.
Even though Phoenix ranks second in Offensive Rating, they play a style of basketball that is much slower when compared to other NBA teams. The Suns rank 24th in the NBA in Pace, generating a total of 98.46 offensive possessions per contest, and according to TeamRankings are attempting a league average amount of field goals per game with 90.0. They have been extremely efficient with those chances, but they have yet to face a defense as talented as Minnesota.
In addition, Phoenix is expected to be without star center Deandre Ayton for this matchup, who has been their second best scoring option and whose absence limits their offensive presence in the paint against one of the best defenses in the NBA.
As a result of Ayton’s absence, Phoenix’s slow pace of play, and two elite defenses going head-to-head, I like the under in this spot.
Pick: Under 228.5 (-110)