Nov 2 NBA Action: Portland Trail Blazers @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Portland Trail Blazers @ Minnesota Timberwolves u205.5 (-105)
Defensive improvement was a focal point for Timberwolves Interim Coach Sam Mitchell during training camp. And while the 2015-16 NBA season is still in its infancy, players appear to be responding. Through two games, Minnesota is 8th in the league in defensive rebouning, 5th in opponents points per game and 1st in opponents true shooting percentage.
OK, the much of the weight of statistics we just rattled off came at the expense of the Denver Nuggets, who sport the 27th worst shooting percentage in the NBA. However, Minnesota's newfound defensive committment was likewise on on display at the Los Angeles Lakers. For instance, while LA managed 111 points, the Lakers did so on a sub-par 35-93 (or about 38%) from the floor. The league average/median is in the 43% ballpark.
Last year Ricky Rubio was the best point guard in the NBA against the ball (as measured by Defensive Real Plus-Minus). We expect that the addition of Karl Anthony Towns to the Minnesota roster will further buttress the Timberwolves stopping power. To wit, Towns racked up four blocks against the Nuggets, good enough to place the rookie Center in a four-way tie for 12th in the league in blocks per game.
Conversely, the Blazers look to be a mere shadow of last year's team on offense (without LaMarcus Aldridge). Portland ranks 22th in scoring and 15th in true shooting percentage through their first three games. While the Rose CIty crew did light the Pelicans up for 112 in their season opener, this feat is not so impressive given that New Orleans is dead last by opponents points per game. Further, in their two subsequent games against the Phoenix Suns (a top-ten defensive unit), the Blazers could only muster 92 and then 90 points.
On defense, Portland ranks 10th in opponents true shooting percentage, so while Minnesota is offensively proficient (i.e. 8th in true shooting percentage and 9th in points per game), we expect the Trail Blazer's D to pose resistence to the Wolves efforts to fill up the scoring column.
SportsInsights reports that the total line for this contest opened at 202, but has crept up to 206 as of the time of this writing. Inputs in our multi-factor model are unanimous in forecasting teh UNDER will cash in tonight. In fact, the most generous line estimate calls for a combimed score of about 202. As such the UNDER appears a compelling value from a quantitative perspective.