NBA: Best bets and analysis for Wednesday, January 24th

Jonathan Von Tobel (74-48-1 | Units: +22.3u) gives his daily NBA best bets and analysis for Wednesday, January 24th.

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Dec 29, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Max Strus (1) and forward Dean Wade (32) and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) go for a loose ball during the second half at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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NBA Best Bets

Record: 74-48-1 | Units: +22.3u | ROI: 16.8%

Minnesota Timberwolves (-11.5, 231) at Washington Wizards

On a night in which Karl-Anthony Towns scored 62 points, head coach Chris Finch lambasted his team for a lazy defensive effort. Minnesota allowed 1.306 points per possession in a 128-125 loss to Charlotte that day. The Timberwolves’ offense devolved into standing around and watching Towns hunt for shots, and on the other end the perimeter defense struggled to contain dribble penetration. 

Minnesota is better than that performance. It still leads the league in non-garbage time defensive rating by a wide margin (109.4). Finch is also a good enough coach to now allow a performance like that to happen again. It’s why we should expect the Timberwolves to bounce back in a big way tonight.

The matchup tonight is one that works in their favor. Minnesota allows the second lowest frequency of shots within four feet of the basket (29.5%) and ranks fifth in opponent shooting at the rim (63.1%). Washington is reliant on shooting in the restricted area. It comes into this game 14th in frequency of attempts (33.8%) and third in shooting (70.2%). Those attempts will be hard to come by tonight.

The Timberwolves also have capable defenders for the best individual players the Wizards have to offer. Anthony Edwards can erase Kyle Kuzma on multiple possessions and Mike Conley is a suitable defender for Jordan Poole.

Defense should be at an all-time high tonight for Minnesota, so instead of playing the side I’ll look to go under Washington’s team total. The strengths of this Timberwolves team pair nicely with what the Wizards want to do. Given how poorly they played on Wednesday I would expect a very focused defensive effort against one of the worst teams in the league.

Play: Wizards TT UN 109.5 (-115) – Playable to (-125)

Cleveland Cavaliers at Milwaukee Bucks (-7, 238)

Milwaukee will take the court in its first game since firing Adrian Griffin. The easy angle here is betting on the team that just fired its coach and chalk it up to inspiration, but there are tangible reasons behind this play.

First and foremost, it is a play that is selling high on a red-hot Cleveland team.

The Cavaliers were hosting the Bucks just a week ago and catching four points on their home floor prior to a late scratch of Giannis Antetokounmpo. That is a number that translates to 6.5 on a neutral in favor of Milwaukee, and yet here we are looking at that 6.5 for a game in Cream City. That alone tells us that there has been an adjustment on Cleveland’s power rating.

Second, this should be a better effort from the Bucks tonight now that Griffin is no longer there.

It was clear to anyone watching Milwaukee that this was a poor relationship. Antetokounmpo was openly insubordinate with Griffin on the sidelines, and the effort on defense – specifically in transition – was poor. Joe Prunty is a long-tenured and respected assistant in the NBA. He has served as an interim coach before – for Milwaukee, in fact – and will be able to get a better effort from this team tonight.

This play is all about selling high and the situation. Milwaukee is back home for the first time in a week and playing its first game without Griffin against a team near its highest point when it comes to a power rating. Let’s take a shot.

Play: Bucks (-6.5) – Playable at (-6.5) or better

NBA Best Bets

Wizards TT UN 109.5 (-115)

Bucks (-6.5)