- The Jazz have the NBA’s fifth-most efficient defense, and Joe Ingles has the length and ability to slow down the Timberwolves.
Here are our three top plays for Wednesday night’s NBA action:
1. Detroit Pistons at Brooklyn Nets (-2.5)
7:30 pm ET
The Pistons are coming off of a tough 108-105 loss to the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, so the team will be a bit tired when it hits the floor in Brooklyn tonight. In their last 30 back-to-back games, the Pistons are a lousy 11-19 straight up when playing the second game. The Nets, meanwhile, will have fresh legs. They did not play on Tuesday and their Monday night "road" game was against the nearby New York Knicks. Brooklyn is also 6-2 against the spread when facing Detroit since the start of the 2016-17 season. Brooklyn might be coming off a dud of a performance against the Knicks, but Kenny Atkinson’s team is right in the middle of the pack in offensive efficiency rating. The Nets take good shots—mostly threes—and do their best to force their opponents into taking bad ones—mostly contested mid-range jumpers. Keep an eye on Brooklyn's D’Angelo Russell and Joe Harris. Both players are shooting the ball extremely well right now, and the Pistons don’t have the type of defenders in the backcourt that can give them trouble. On the other side of the floor, Jarrett Allen’s length should make things difficult for Detroit's Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond around the basket.
Pick: Nets (-2.5)
2. Utah Jazz at Minnesota Timberwolves (+6)
8:00 pm ET
The Timberwolves beat the Los Angeles Lakers in a dramatic game on Monday night, but seem poised for a letdown against the Jazz here. Since the start of 2016-17, Minnesota is 14-28 against the spread when coming off a game in which it scored 115 points or more. Since the start of last season, the Jazz are 27-14 against the spread when facing an opponent that allows 106.0 or more points per game. On top of that, Utah is 18-8 against the spread when coming off back-to-back road games in that span. The Jazz are too good to slip up in a spot like this. Utah is strong on both ends of the floor, ranking 14th in offensive efficiency and fifth in defensive efficiency. Utah's Rudy Gobert is the league’s best rim protector—and in the conversation for best overall defender—and Joe Ingles is one of the better wing defenders in basketball. With Jimmy Butler out tonight, the Timberwolves will be relying on Karl-Anthony Towns to provide the offense. Considering he'll be matched up with Gobert, that won't end well. Even if Andrew Wiggins is able to suit up, Ingles will have no trouble shutting him down.
Pick: Jazz (-6)
3. Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers (-7.5)
10:30 pm ET
Both the Mavericks and Lakers are coming off tough road losses, as Dallas fell in overtime against the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles lost a tight one in Minnesota. With both teams looking to rebound, it’s interesting to see a line as large as this one. The Lakers understandably get a bump from the public just by having LeBron James, but the Mavericks are being slept on. Dallas is 26-15 against the spread when playing as an underdog of 3.5 to 9.5 points since the start of last season. The Mavs' Luka Doncic looks more like an All-Star than a rookie right now. The 19-year-old is averaging 20.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game on an efficient 45.9% shooting from the field and 38.8% shooting from 3-point range. Doncic torched the NBA’s fourth-worst defense for 31 points the other night in San Antonio and could do something similar against the eighth-worst Lakers defense. The Mavericks also have DeAndre Jordan inside, who should be able to outplay JaVale McGee tonight. McGee's presence around the basket on both ends of the floor has been crucial for LeBron and the Lakers. But Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle will have his team prepared to slow McGee down. Carlisle's Mavericks also have hard-nosed defenders in Wes Matthews, Dorian Finney-Smith and Harrison Barnes who can disrupt L.A.'s talented young players such as Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma.
Pick: Mavericks (+7.5)