The red-hot Minnesota Timberwolves will kick off a road trip by traveling to Portland and taking on the Trail Blazers on Saturday night. Minnesota has won six of their past seven games, and all of a sudden look like a playoff contender in the Western Conference. Portland hopes that returning home will get them back on track as they have lost six of their last eight games.
Portland has slipped to third place in the Northwest Division due to their recent struggles. They bring a 14-11 record into this contest but are 3.5 games in back of the Denver Nuggets in the division. Minnesota is right behind the Trail Blazers in the standings with a record of 13-12, but they are climbing fast. The Blazers and Timberwolves have split their first two games this season. Portland is a 1.5 point favorite over Minnesota on Saturday night.
Wolves Excelling Without Butler
Many people thought that Minnesota was giving up on their season by trading away Jimmy Butler, but the opposite has happened. Without Butler, several other Timberwolves players have been given a chance to shine. Center Karl-Anthony Towns leads the team with 21.3 points and 12 rebounds per game this season and looks like an All-Star. Towns is able to get more shots and has more room to work without Butler on the floor.
The Timberwolves are averaging 110 points per game this season, which is right at league average. Their defense has been improved of late, and they have allowed just 109.5 points per game this season. Small forward Robert Covington has been a terrific two-way player since joining Minnesota, averaging 14.6 points and 2.7 steals per game. Keep an eye on Minnesota as the season rolls along.
Blazers Need More Depth
The Portland Trail Blazers have a terrific trio of potential All-Stars this season, but they don’t have the depth necessary to be a great team. Point guard Damian Lillard is having another great season in Portland, averaging 27.2 points and 6.4 assists per game. Backcourt mate C.J. McCollum has pitched in with 21.3 points per game this season. Center Jusuf Nurkic is averaging a double-double with 14.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
Portland needs to get consistent contributions from other players on their roster if they are going to get back to their winning ways. The Blazers are the second-best rebounding team in the NBA averaging 49.4 points per game, but they need more bench scoring. Portland has just those three players averaging double-figures, and that won’t work against a solid defensive team like the Wolves.
Portland Beats Wolves at Home
The Timberwolves are playing much better than the Trail Blazers at the moment, but Portland is a difficult place to play. Minnesota got beat by 30 points in their last trip to Portland, and this result could be much of the same. Look for the Trail Blazers to get back to their winning ways starting with this game. The Timberwolves are improved, but Portland is just better. Bet the Portland Trail Blazers -1.5 over the Minnesota Timberwolves.