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Three at 3: Tenacious T-Wolves Should Handle Inconsistent Spurs

Since acquiring Robert Covington, the Timberwolves have been a top-five defensive team. That should allow Minnesota to handle its business against a Spurs team that doesn’t play well on the road.

Despite a recent rough stretch, Three at 3 is still hitting on 60.0% of its plays since October 30th. Here are our top three picks for Wednesday night’s NBA action:

1. Atlanta Hawks at Charlotte Hornets (Total: 232)

7:00 pm ET

When the Hawks and Hornets met on Sunday, Atlanta came away with a 124-123 win as a 6.5-point home underdog. The Hawks shot 53.2% from the floor in that game, and the Hornets shot 44.1%. While it wouldn’t be surprising if those numbers flipped tonight, there should still be plenty of points scored. In the last five meetings between these two teams, the over has hit four times. The average amount of points scored in those games was 236.4. The only under came when the Hawks shot a miserable six for 30 from outside in Charlotte earlier in November. These teams are both built to score. The Hornets are currently fifth in the league in offensive efficiency rating, and the Hawks are averaging 112.4 points per game in the five games that John Collins has played at least 20 minutes this year. The second-year big is one of the most promising players Atlanta has, but he is still easing his way into the lineup after missing the first 15 games of the year recovering from a knee injury. The battle at point guard between Trae Young and Kemba Walker is a big reason why this game should be so high scoring. Both players are tremendous offensively and equally unimpressive on the other end. Walker is definitely a better defender than Young, but both players will have their lapses. It’s also worth noting that the over is 6-1 this season when the Hornets are revenging a road loss versus an opponent.

Pick: Over (232)

2. Utah Jazz at Brooklyn Nets (+3.5)

7:30 pm ET

As bad as the Jazz have been lately, it’s still hard to imagine the Nets keeping this close tonight. Even if Donovan Mitchell, whose status is up in the air because of bruised ribs, is unable to go in this one, Utah still presents an extremely tough matchup for Brooklyn. The Nets' strengths are at point guard and center, where D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen have taken clear leaps this season. But Utah's Ricky Rubio and Rudy Gobert will be there to guard them tonight. For all of Rubio’s struggles offensively this year, the 28-year-old is still one of the better defenders in the league at his position. He’ll make things tough on Russell, who likes to launch a ton of threes but can go ice cold from deep. Meanwhile, Gobert is arguably the best defender in basketball. He should stifle Allen and prevent Brooklyn's Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie from having an easy path to attack closeouts. Gobert’s presence will also hinder Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, an undersized power forward that does most of his work around the basket. The Nets are 14-27 against the spread at home after three straight games of allowing 105 or more points under current head coach Kenny Atkinson. Brooklyn also ranks 24th in the league in defensive efficiency rating, so this matchup is just what the doctor ordered for a struggling Jazz offense.

Pick: Jazz (-3.5)

3. San Antonio Spurs at Minnesota Timberwolves (-4.5)

8:00 pm ET

Since trading Jimmy Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Timberwolves are 6-2 both straight up and against the spread. Their only losses in that span came against the Memphis Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets, two very good basketball teams. Minnesota’s improvement largely comes down to Robert Covington. In Covington’s five games with the Timberwolves, the team’s 101.6 points allowed per 100 possessions is the fourth-best mark in the league. Covington has always been a force defensively, and his ability to communicate and get on his teammates has made everybody better on that end of the floor. Nobody has benefited from Covington’s arrival more than Karl-Anthony Towns. A lot has been made of the budding bromance between the two players, but there are real results on the floor. Towns has been criticized for his efforts defensively since entering the league, but his defensive rating is a spectacular 100.9 over the last five games. With the way Towns is capable of dominating games offensively, he’ll re-enter discussions as a top-15 player if he can keep this up defensively. While Minnesota continues to thrive with its new roster, San Antonio is still struggling to figure things out. Things have been especially bad on the road, where the Spurs are 4-7 straight up and 5-6 against the spread. DeMar DeRozan has been stellar offensively, but the Spurs have little else in terms of consistent production. San Antonio is also 21st in the league in defensive efficiency rating, which should mean good things for Minnesota's offense. The Spurs are just 9-22 against the spread in road games against teams that average at least 106.0 points per game over the past two seasons.

Pick: Timberwolves (-4.5)

Overall Record: 47-40-3