MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (6-3)
at DENVER NUGGETS (3-4)
Tip-off: Friday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Minnesota -1.5, Total: 211
The surging Timberwolves take to the road Friday night to face the red-hot Nuggets, who are aiming for their third straight win.
Minnesota has seemingly put all the pieces in place this season, adding SG Kevin Martin in the offseason and having PF Kevin Love and PG Ricky Rubio healthy and continually improving. The Wolves have won three of their past four games (4-0 ATS) coming into this one, and are fresh off of a 124-95 beatdown of the Cavaliers on Wednesday night. The team shot 54.9% from the field in that game and saw Rubio dish out a career-high 16 assists. The Nuggets had a rough 0-3 start to the season, but have been getting healthier and have won three of four games in the past week. They most recently defeated the Lakers on Wednesday, 111-99, and were led in points by an unlikely contributor, C Timofey Mozgov (23 points). Denver has gone 2-2 SU (1-3 ATS) when playing at home this season with the Over being 3-1 in those games. The Timberwolves are 2-2 SU on the road, but have gone undefeated ATS (4-0). Last season, these teams split their four-game series with Denver going 3-1 ATS. Although Minnesota won outright at Pepsi Center on Jan. 3, this team is just 2-10 SU in its past dozen trips to Denver, but has an amazing 10-2 ATS mark during this span. Martin missed the Timberwolves last game with an illness but is expected to rejoin the team for Friday's contest. Denver will once again be without C JaVale McGee (tibia) and SF Danilo Gallinari (knee), but welcomed SF Wilson Chandler back into the lineup on Wednesday night. Minnesota has thrived in fast-paced games since the start of last season, going 22-11 ATS (67%) versus teams that attempt at least 83 field goals per game. However, the Nuggets are 19-8 ATS (70%) when the total is greater than or equal to 210 over this same timeframe.
Which surging club will stay hot on Friday night? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2013-14 season. StatFox Forecaster has been spot-on so far this season with a 60% ATS record (24-16) in featured games, while the five experts are a sizzling 11-2 ATS on Best Bets since Tuesday night. StatFox Dave is 4-0 ATS on Best Bets since Monday to improve to 62% ATS (8-5) for the season, while StatFox Gary is 3-0 ATS, StatFox Scott is 2-0 ATS and StatFox Brian is 2-1 ATS on NBA Best Bets since Tuesday.
Minnesota currently ranks second in the league in scoring (108.2 PPG) thanks to an up-tempo offense, which is second in the league in FG attempts per game (88.6). The team has also dished out an average of 25.6 APG, good for fourth in the NBA. Even though the ‘Wolves have been running the floor at a blistering pace, they have allowed a respectable 99.7 PPG to their opponents and have held them to 95 or fewer points in four of nine games this season. PF Kevin Love has made the move into superstar status this season and currently ranks second in the NBA in both scoring (27.1 PPG) and rebounding (14.2 RPG), while recording eight double-doubles (2nd-most in NBA) over the first nine games. At 6-foot-10, Love gives opposing defenses troubles with his ability to shoot the long ball with 2.3 made threes per game on 36% 3-pt FG. In 14 career games (10 starts) against the Nuggets, Love has averaged 18.9 PPG and 13.5 RPG. SG Kevin Martin (24.6 PPG, 56% 3-point FG) has once again become a scoring machine and has tallied 23+ points in six of the seven games that he has played. Martin scored only 13.8 PPG in four games against Denver last season while playing with the Thunder, but he still shot a blistering 56% FG and 9-for-16 threes (56%). In 26 career games (16 starts) against the Nuggets, he's averaged 19.0 PPG on 43% threes. PG Ricky Rubio (9.4 PPG, 9.7 APG, 4.3 RPG, 3.3 SPG) has dished out double-digit assists in six of nine games this season, and has had 3+ steals in seven of nine games.
The Nuggets started the season with three straight games scoring under 100 points, but have since been averaging 105.8 PPG on 45% FG and 39% threes. Denver has done a nice job on the glass all year with 47.6 RPG (2nd in NBA) while outrebounding their opponents by a +2.6 RPG margin (7th in NBA). Their defense has improved with the recent addition of SF Wilson Chandler back into the lineup and has held opponents under 100 points in their past two games. PG Ty Lawson (21.3 PPG, 7.3 APG, 4.7 RPG) has carried the offense on his back this season, but the team actually does better when Lawson has scored fewer than 20 points (2-0) than when he reaches that amount (1-4). Lawson has had some of his best games when facing the Timberwolves over 13 career games (9 starts), averaging 18.6 PPG (54% FG, 52% threes) and 5.6 APG. This includes 20.8 PPG (55% FG, 8-of-15 threes) in four meetings last season. PF Kenneth Faried (10.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG) was mentioned often this past week in trade talks as the Knicks were attempting to acquire him, but the Nuggets decided to stay with him. He has really started to pick it up in C JaVale McGee’s absence and has averaged 18.0 PPG (58% FG) and 13.0 RPG over his past two games. Faried has also averaged a double-double (12.5 PPG, 10.5 RPG) in eight career games facing the Timberwolves. SF Wilson Chandler (hamstring) returned to the Nuggets' lineup on Wednesday night, scoring 12 points (4-of-7 threes) and adding five rebounds and two steals in just 21 minutes of action.