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NBA SO/UP Picks and Analysis: Timberwolves-Mavericks, Suns-Lakers

Betting advice and picks as the Lakers and Suns meet for the second time and the Timberwolves try to beat the Mavericks for the second straight game.

The Timberwolves and Mavericks meet for the second time in three days Tuesday night, while the struggling Lakers and first-place Suns battle for the second time.

Doug Vazquez is back as the guest picker for Tuesday and he’ll also take part in our NBA Christmas Day betting preview, which will come out later this week.

Season record: 47-43
Guest pickers: 30-54

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Dec 19, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels (3) defends Dallas Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (11) who works towards the basket in the third quarter at Target Center.

Minnesota Timberwolves (15-15) vs. Dallas Mavericks (14-15)

Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Timberwolves -1 (-110) | Mavericks +1 (-110)
Moneyline: Timberwolves (-110) | Mavericks (-110)
Total: Under 212.5 (-110) | Over 212.5 (-110)
Injuries: Timberwolves G Anthony Edwards—Out; Timberwolves F Taurean Prince—Out; Timberwolves F Josh Okogie—Out; Timberwolves F Jarred Vanderbilt—Out; Timberwolves G Patrick Beverly—Out; Mavericks G Luka Doncic—Out; Mavericks C Kristaps Porzingis—Day-to-day; Mavericks F Maxi Kleber—Out; Mavericks C Willie Cauley-Stein; Mavericks G Reggie Bullock—Out

These teams played over the weekend in Minneapolis and see each other again Tuesday night in Dallas. The Timberwolves won, 111-105, on Sunday in their first meeting of the season. That win marked four in a row for Minnesota, a quick turnaround from the five-game losing streak that preceded this winning streak.

The Timberwolves were without star guard Anthony Edwards for their last two games after he entered the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols. Minnesota has clawed to a .500 record and the eighth seed in the Western Conference thanks to its No. 12 scoring offense (108.8 PPG), which is led by Karl-Anthony Towns 24.4 PPG. The T-Wolves lag behind on defense, ranking 19th in opponents’ scoring (108.6 PPG).

Dallas was without star Luka Doncic in Sunday's loss to the Timberwolves and he’ll be out again Tuesday with an ankle injury. The Mavericks are 2-6 without him this season. With Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis sidelined, the scoring duties fall to Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jalen Brunson. Both are capable scorers, and they each average 14.9 PPG, but it’s rough going without Dallas’ top two players—the team is 4-6 in its last 10.

The Mavericks do a phenomenal job of containing their opponents. They allow 104.8 PPG, ranking fifth in the NBA. Dallas’ offense is what drags the team down. Only four teams average fewer points per game than the Mavericks (104.8 PPG).

Kyle Wood's Bets:

Spread pick: Timberwolves -1

Minnesota is playing great basketball and the team can put some distance between itself and the ninth-place Mavericks with a win. Dallas, meanwhile, was already falling apart with Doncic and Porzingis in the lineup. Without them, it’s an easy mark for the surging Timberwolves as Sunday proved. Minnesota is marginally better Against the Spread (15-15) than Dallas (13-16). I’m going with the momentum here and the fact that Karl-Anthony Towns is by far the best player on the court, which never hurts.

Over/Under pick: Under 212.5

The Timberwolves are slightly better than league average on offense. They have scored well during four-game winning streak, though, posting at least 110 points in each game. The Mavericks cannot keep up with teams on offense, but they compensate on defense by holding teams under 100 points on many nights. The way Minnesota is playing, Dallas won’t keep them from cracking triple-digits but the defense should be able to keep Towns and Co. in check. Plus, Mavericks games go under 66.7% of the time, the second-highest mark in the league.

Prop: Tim Hardway Jr. Over 19.5 Points

Hardaway Jr. is the team’s de facto scoring option with Doncic and Porzingis out. He takes the third-most shots per game on the team (13.8) and that only increases when he’s called upon to score. He’s gone over this mark in his past two games thanks to a three-point barrage. I expect Dallas to be trailing and that calls for another 10-plus three-point attempt night for Hardaway, which should lead to 20 or more points.

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Guest Picker Doug Vazquez’s Bets:

Spread pick: Timberwolves -1

This is a very interesting matchup between Western Conference rivals. The numbers over at SI Sportsbook show you that the oddsmakers view this as close to an even matchup as you can get. The T-Wolves have been impressive of late, winning their last four. The Mavs turned up the heat defensively but were unable to shut down KAT in their last matchup Sunday night. The Wolves are 4-1 ATS in their last five and 9-1 ATS in their last 10 against Western Conference opponents. I’m going to lay the one point here in what is essentially a pick 'em.

Over/Under pick: Under 212.5

With both teams missing key scorers and others out due to COVID-19, I expect the pace to be a little slower than normal. Dallas has buckled down defensively in Doncic’s absence and should keep it close in what I think will eventually be a Minnesota win. The under has cashed seven times in Dallas’ last eight games.

Prop: D’Angelo Russell Over 26.5 Points Plus Rebounds

D’Angelo Russell has been asked to carry more of the offensive load in Edwards’ absence. He had 22 in a victory against the Mavs on Sunday night and he is primed for another big one here. The Mavs will definitely be focusing their attention on Karl-Anthony Towns, so look for DLo to get more looks in this one. The Timberwolves will need more help from him on the glass as well. I'm hoping that after his two-rebound output in the last matchup, he will exceed his points plus rebounds prop.

Oct 22, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) is defended by Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) and center Deandre Ayton (22) in the first half at Staples Center.

Phoenix Suns (24-5) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (16-15)

Time: 10 p.m. ET, TNT
Spread: Suns -7.5 (-110) | Lakers +7.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Suns (-333) | Lakers (+260)
Total: Under 222.5 (-110) | Over 222.5 (-110)
Injuries: Lakers F Anthony Davis—Out; Lakers F LeBron James—Day-to-day; Lakers G Malik Monk—Out; Lakers G Avery Bradley—Out; Lakers G Austin Reaves—Out; Suns C Frank Kaminsky—Out

The Suns put together their most complete offensive showing of the season Sunday when they scored a season-best 137 points against the Hornets. That was Phoenix’s third win in a row and it pushed them past the Warriors for the best record in basketball. Devin Booker returned from a sustained absence for that beatdown of Charlotte. It marked his first game since Nov. 30.

Despite playing without Booker for weeks, Phoenix is the only team in the NBA with top-four offensive and defensive units. The Suns boast the league’s No. 3 scoring offense (111.9 PPG) and No. 4 scoring defense (104.6 PPG).

The injury and COVID-19-riddled Lakers lost their previous two games on the road and now return home to host the Suns. The Lakers lost Anthony Davis for four weeks due to a knee injury and several players are in the league’s health and safety protocols. That all puts more stress on the tandem of LeBron James and Russell Westbrook.

Despite their ups and downs (the downs include an 18-point loss to Minnesota on Friday in which Isaiah Thomas led the team in scoring), L.A. has the NBA’s No. 8 scoring offense (110.5 PPG). Their 26th-ranked defense (111.3 PPG) is unlikely to improve with Davis out. The Lakers won their last two games at home and are 10-7 overall at the soon-to-be-renamed Staples Center.

Kyle Wood's Bets:

Spread pick: Suns -7.5

A healthy Suns team beat a healthy Lakers team by 10 points on the road earlier this season. Phoenix, which has the best record in the NBA and just got its best player back, now gets a short-handed L.A. squad reeling from COVID-19 and injuries. The Lakers have the worst ATS record (12-19) compared to Phoenix’s respectable mark (16-13). Los Angeles plays well at home, but the Suns are winning wherever they play. I like them to do so comfortably Tuesday.

Over/Under pick: Over 222.5

The Suns scored 111 or more points in four of its last five games. The Lakers, despite their struggles, are still a top-10 scoring offense. More than 50% of Los Angeles games go over and Phoenix games do so about 45% of the time. It’s possible the Suns’ defense keeps the Lakers in check, but the offense can still easily get into the 115-120 range to ensure this game goes over.

Prop: Devin Booker Over 23.5 Points

Booker was eased back into the lineup on Sunday, playing just 26 minutes. He scored 16 points in his return and connected on 4-of-8 three-pointers. I’d expect Booker to continue to make a living outside while he gets back into the flow of the offense. The Lakers don’t have the wing defenders to make life difficult for Booker outside, so if he shoots enough he can easily eclipse 24 points. His season average is 22.9 PPG.

Guest Picker Doug Vazquez’s Bets:

Spread pick: Suns -7.5

Handicapping this game seems like a layup—no pun intended. The Suns are one of the hottest teams and the Lakers are reeling. Phoenix finally got back Devin Booker, who is being eased back in the lineup, while L.A. has been ravaged by injuries and COVID. The Suns are 10-3 on the road this season and everyone seems to turn out and impress King James, which leads me to believe we will see big performances out of Booker and Ayton trying to impress their idol. This game could get ugly early and I expect a blowout to be honest. The line would tell you the oddsmakers expect this to be a three-possession game at the end, which seems way off to me. Lay the 7.5.

Over/Under pick: Over 222.5

Booker being back obviously gives this Suns squad a major boost on the offensive end. And he seems to bring out the best in Ayton when they are on the floor together. This total seems a little low to me. I think Booker, Ayton, James and Westbrook all put up big numbers here and the Lakers’ bench can add to the total in what I expect to be a lot of garbage time at the end.

Prop: Devin Booker Over 23.5 Points

As you can probably tell, I am high on DBook’s return to the court. James always brings out the best in Booker as he averages 23 PPG in his career when he faces James with a 47 burger in there for good measure. I love his points prop here at a good price of -110.

DFS Value Plays

(Prices based on 7:30 p.m. main slate)
PG/SG Jalen Brunson, Mavericks (FD: $7,300 | DK: $7,400)
PG/SG Devonte’ Graham, Pelicans (FD: $6,400 | $5,400)
SF Nassir Little, Trail Blazers (FD: $5,700 | $4,200)
C/PF Myles Turner, Pacers (FD: $6,500 | $6,800)
C Jonas Valanciunas, Pelicans (FD: $7,800 | $8,300)

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