The second half of the NBA season continues tonight with eight games on the schedule. One of those games will feature the Minnesota Timberwolves playing host to LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets. We’ll preview the game before going over my three plays for the action.
The Minnesota Timberwolves sit as the 7th seed in the Western Conference with a 31-30 record. Minnesota was one of the teams to make a big shake-up to the team during the trade deadline, and they went into the All-Star break going 5-5 in their last ten games leading up to it with a -.6 NET rating in that span.
Minnesota’s offense was fairly inconsistent during that final ten-game stretch, as they ended it ranked 19th in offensive efficiency rating at 114.1. Despite having the 11th-best true shooting percentage in the league during that time, it was still a mystery as to what offense would be showing up that night. In their final game before the break, the Timberwolves only managed 106 points against an average Wizards defense, as their bench could only score 22 points.
Defensively it was a similar story regarding consistency, with Minnesota finishing that ten-game span with a 114.7 defensive rating. During that stretch, opponents had an average shooting percentage of 49.3%, with the Timberwolves ranked 21st in that category.
The bright side for them is that they’ll return from break facing a Hornets team that went 3-7 in their last ten games with an offensive rating that ranked 24th. Despite the less-than-ideal rating numbers for Charlotte, they went into the break on a two-game win streak, which was only the third time they managed to win back-to-back games all season.
In those final two games, the Hornets caught fire from three and ended up getting 38.6% of their points from threes, which was a massive spike from their numbers for the entire first half of the season, where they only got 28.8% of their points from three-pointers.
The Timberwolves can currently be found as either -6 or -6.5 point favorites tonight, but I’ll be targeting their first-half spread for one of my plays in this one. Only 12 teams in the league have a positive return on investment for first-half spread bets, and Minnesota was one of them, as they went 33-28 ATS in the 1H. Conversely, Charlotte had the worst first-half ATS record and ROI leading into the All-Star break.
The Hornets had a first-half NET rating of -9.9 during the first part of the season, which was the 2nd worst rating in the NBA. Minnesota was ranked 9th in NET rating for the 1H of games with a 3 NET rating. It comes down to who can come out of the gate quickly and efficiently. Charlotte struggles mightily with that, ranking 24th and 22nd in first and second-quarter scoring averages, which led to them having the worst 1H offensive rating heading into the break.
Not only did they start slow on the offensive end, but defensively as well, ranking dead last in the league in second-quarter points allowed per game. Opponents had an average shooting percentage of 49.2% in the first half of games against Charlotte, and even coming off the break, I think their 1H struggles will continue tonight.
Mike Conley Over 6.5 Assists (-140): In Conley’s last ten games heading into the break, he averaged 7.6 assists per game and went over his prop total in six of those games. He has an ideal matchup tonight against a Hornets team that allowed the most assists per game during the first part of the season, with an average of 26.6. As their primary ballhandler, I think he can take advantage of the matchup and start the second half strong.
Jaden McDaniels Over 4.5 Rebounds (+130): Not only did Charlotte allow the most assists per game, but they also allowed the most rebounds per game with an average of 46.7. McDaniels averaged 4.6 RPG in his last ten games and went into the break by going over his total in the final two games.
Timberwolves 1H (-3.5)
Mike Conley Over 6.5 Assists (-140)
Jaden McDaniels Over 4.5 Rebounds (+130)