- With the young duo of Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis averaging a combined 24 points per game in the early days of the season—and with Victor Oladipo averaging 22 PPG by himself—the Pacers have a variety of ways to go at the Wolves on Monday night.
Here are our three top plays for Monday night's NBA action.
1. Indiana Pacers at Minnesota Timberwolves (-2.5)
8:00 pm ET
Since the start of the 2014-15 season, the Pacers have won and covered in four straight games against the Timberwolves in Minnesota. And considering the way things are going for each of these teams in the early going this year, it’s easy to see the value in Indiana on Monday night. The Pacers’ only loss this season was on the road against a Bucks team that is clearly trending upwards and was playing that way in its home opener. But Indiana has also beaten both Memphis and Brooklyn by a total of 48 points in its other two games. This Pacers team is once again one of the best in the Eastern Conference, and it has the type of toughness throughout its roster to really give the Timberwolves some trouble. Minnesota is still in an odd place with the Jimmy Butler situation, and it’s hard to imagine them consistently beating good teams until that is all settled. And in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis, the Pacers have the ability to take advantage of Karl-Anthony Towns’s soft interior defense. Sabonis was unable to play against the Nets last game, but it seems like he’ll be back in the lineup here.
The Pick: Pacers +2.5
2. Washington Wizards at Portland Trail Blazers (-4.5)
Even after impressive home victories over the Lakers and Spurs, it seems Vegas hasn’t caught on that the Blazers just might be better than the 42-win team that the win totals suggested they’d be before the season. Guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are playing at a high level for Portland, and they have the firepower to, at the very least, keep up with the strong Wizards backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal. But the difference in this game will ultimately come down to the benches, where Portland has one of the better units in the entire league. The Blazers bench was the X-factor in their home opener against Los Angeles, and they should play a role in helping Portland pull away in this one as well. The Wizards will not find it easy to get comfortable in front of this crowd.
The Pick: Blazers -4.5
3. New York Knicks at Milwaukee Bucks (-11)
It’s obviously very early in the year, but the Knicks are 2-0 against the spread thus far. That doesn’t mean you can start to consider New York a contender to make the playoffs or anything, but it’s looking likely that this is going to be at least a competitive team all season. New head coach David Fizdale is getting the most out of his group, and this simply seems like too many points for them to be getting—even though Milwaukee has been impressive to start the year, too. While it’s easy to say Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton will be the two best players on the floor, the Knicks have a team full of guys that play their hearts out every night. And even though rookie Kevin Knox is out for a few weeks with a sprained ankle, New York has enough to keep this to a single-digit loss. Frank Ntilikina is a player to keep an eye on here, as he has the defensive chops to make it a tough night for Middleton. And Tim Hardaway Jr. also deserves a mention, as he has been lighting it up offensively this season. Another 25-point game is not out of the question. And despite the fact that the Knicks have lost three straight in Milwaukee, they have covered in four of their past six trips to Wisconsin.
The Pick: Knicks +11