- The Timberwolves have played well since trading Jimmy Butler, but Minnesota is just 1-8 on the road this season, and the Cavaliers have turned things around behind Collin Sexton.
Here are our three top plays for Monday night’s NBA action:
1. Minnesota Timberwolves at Cleveland Cavaliers (+6)
7:00 pm ET
After being the laughingstock of the NBA early in the season, the Cavaliers have been figuring things out in recent weeks. Cleveland isn’t going to be a playoff team, but the Cavs come into this game against the Timberwolves having covered in three straight and five of their last seven. On Saturday, Cleveland defeated Houston 117-108 as a 6.5-point home underdog. The night before, the Cavs beat the Sixers 121-112 as 13-point road underdogs. Bettors would be wise to take notice. The Timberwolves also covered in five of their last seven and look like a better basketball team since trading Jimmy Butler. Minnesota's problem is it can’t win on the road. The T-Wolves' victory over the Nets in Brooklyn on Friday was the team’s first road win of the year, and the team is just 1-8 straight up and 3-6 against the spread when playing away from home this season. Over the last two seasons, Minnesota is also just 7-19 against the spread when facing teams that hit at least 36.0% of their threes. This Cavs team does just that, thanks, in part, to rookie Collin Sexton. Over the last five games, Sexton is averaging 21.2 points per game on 53.7% shooting from the floor and 45.5% shooting from the outside. If Sexton continues to shoot the ball well, it will open things up for his teammates. And since Sexton is bigger and stronger than the Timberwolves he'll be facing, another strong performance should be in the cards.
Pick: Cavaliers (+6)
2. Milwaukee Bucks at Charlotte Hornets (+4.5)
7:00 pm ET
With the way Kemba Walker is playing this season, it’s never easy to advise betting against the Hornets. Over the last five games, Walker is averaging 33.2 points, 7.4 assists and 1.8 steals per game on 49.6% shooting from the floor and 42.9% shooting from three. In games against the Sixers and Celtics a little over a week ago, Walker scored 103 combined points. He has been an absolute flamethrower from the outside and is more than capable of finishing at the rim when teams close out too hard. But the supporting cast in Charlotte leaves a lot to be desired, and the Hornets are just 2-3 over their last five games despite Walker's incredible play. The Bucks, on the other hand, look like a team that can represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals this season. Milwaukee is in the top 5 in both offensive and defensive efficiency rating, and the team’s length and ability to shoot the three will make it very tough for Charlotte to hang around for an entire game. It doesn’t help that the Hornets are 4-14 against the spread when playing as a home underdog over the last three seasons.
Pick: Bucks (-4.5)
3. San Antonio Spurs at Chicago Bulls (+6)
8:00 pm ET
It is still early in the season, but this game feels like a must-win for San Antonio. The Spurs have playoff aspirations on a yearly basis but are currently under .500. If they are going to get themselves in a position to be playing postseason basketball then they need to take care of business against Eastern Conference bottom-dwellers like the Bulls. Chicago is 5-15 straight up on the season and 9-11 against the spread. The Bulls were projected to be one of the worst teams in the league defensively, and they have been, ranking 22nd in the NBA in defensive efficiency rating. Chicago's strength was supposed to be its offense, but the Bulls have struggled there as well. The Bulls are scoring just 100.6 points per 100 possessions, and that stat is unlikely to go up against a Spurs team that should be locked in from the opening tip. Look for DeMar DeRozan to put up some huge numbers and lead his team to a comfortable win.
Pick: Spurs (-6)
Overall Record: 47-34-3