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08.03.2024

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Cleveland Cavaliers Game Preview and Pick: Cavs Stop Wolves Momentum

The bad news for Timberwolves fans is that Karl-Anthony Towns has a torn meniscus, the good news is that Anthony Edwards is still a member of the team. In Minnesota’s first game with Towns on the sideline, the Timberwolves needed to take on the Pacers, and Anthony Edwards put the team on his back and carried them to a win.

Fresh off that win last night, Minnesota will be in Cleveland to take on a Cavs team that has been tough to play against on a rest disadvantage. With Anthony Edwards also nursing an injury, I think backing the Cavs is the right play in this matchup.

Game Preview

In order to beat the Indiana Pacers last night, Anthony Edwards needed to score 44 points on 18-35 shooting from the field while also making the game-winning block as time expired. Edwards is fully capable of putting on jaw-dropping performances every time he touches the floor. Still, the question is how long he can carry the team on a nightly basis without the offensive help that Karl-Anthony Towns provides.

According to Cleaning the Glass, among big men, Towns is in the 92nd percentile in usage rate, 80th percentile in assist rate, and 71st percentile in points per shot attempt. With those numbers missing from the lineup, we will see a lot of what we did last night, which was Edwards outscoring all four other starters combined in points.

The problem for tonight is that Anthony Edwards is dealing with left ankle soreness, which has him listed as questionable for the game. If Edwards can’t go or is limited, the scoring in Minnesota falls into the hands of guys like Rudy Gobert and Jaden McDaniels.

Minnesota isn’t the only team in this matchup dealing with injuries, as the Cavs will be without Max Strus, Evan Mobley, and Donovan Mitchell tonight. Those three all missed the Cavs' most recent game, which was a contributing factor to them losing 112-101 to the Hawks.

Without those three guys in the lineup, the Cavs' scoring primarily comes from Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen. While those aren’t bad options when it comes to scoring, the Cavs offense is frankly just struggling as of late, as they are ranked 24th in the league in points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time over the past two weeks, per Cleaning the Glass.

Pick for the Game

Missing three of your leading scorers is not ideal, but I still feel the Cavs are in a good position tonight. Cleveland is a league-best 10-2 ATS when they have a rest advantage this season. Not only do they have a rest advantage, but Minnesota played in a game last night that seemed to be more intense than a typical regular-season game. Those are a few reasons why Cleveland is a (-2.5) point favorite on most Ohio mobile betting apps.

Even if Anthony Edwards can play, he and the rest of the Wolves will likely not be as fresh. Without fresh legs and Towns, it’s hard to imagine the Wolves can consistently beat the Cavs' defense for four quarters. Cleveland is still ranked 3rd in adjusted defensive efficiency rating and 4th in opponent shooting percentage inside five feet of the basket, per Dunks and Threes.

Cleveland’s interior defense, led by Jarrett Allen, will make things tough on Rudy Gobert and Naz Reid, who the Wolves desperately need on offense if Edwards isn’t 100%. It may not be ideal for the Cavs' offense to be missing guys like Strus, but I think Cleveland has better-scoring depth with guys like Caris LeVert and Isaac Okoro to compliment Darius Garland.

Recap

  • Cleveland Cavaliers (-2.5)(-108) on DraftKings

*odds subject to change

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