Clippers vs. Timberwolves Odds, Pick, Prediction: Back Home-Court Edge in Play-In Game (Tuesday, April 12)
David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Marcus Morris Sr. #8 of the LA Clippers and Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
- The Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves meet in Tuesday's NBA Play-In Game with the No. 7 seed in the West on the line.
- The Timberwolves opened has home favorites and the line has hovered around -3.
- Can the Wolves secure their first playoff spot since 2018? Matt Moore previews the matchup.
Clippers vs. Timberwolves Odds
|Time||9:30 p.m. ET|
Win, and you’re in.
The NBA Play-In Tournament begins Tuesday night with the Minnesota Timberwolves, seeking just their second postseason appearance since 2004, facing the nearly full-strength Los Angeles Clippers with Paul George.
After five long months, we have an NBA game with real stakes, real motivation, real drama. Let’s bet the Clippers-Wolves play-in game!
Clippers Have Experience Edge
Luke Kennard is questionable with a hamstring injury and Kawhi Leonard remains out for the foreseeable future.
The Clippers have dominated the Wolves in head-to-head matchups this season. The Clips had their ninth and 11th-best Offensive Rating of the season in two of their three wins and their second-best Defensive Rating of the season in another.
Except, that’s not really what happened.
The score of this game was 61 to 30 following this sequence. The Wolves scored *30* points for the rest of the game.
Maintaining poise tomorrow with refs or whoever is almost inarguably the biggest x-factor of this play-in pic.twitter.com/gjppBhHn4r
— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) April 12, 2022
The Clippers built up a huge lead in the third quarter of the first matchup, but the Timberwolves didn’t have D’Angelo Russell for the second matchup, and were on a back-to-back in the third.
Still, beyond the regular season performance, there’s a lot to like for the Clippers here. Their experience edge is considerable, and they have the best player on the floor.
The Wolves have given up the eighth-most 3-point attempts per 100 possessions since All-Star and the Clippers rank 12th in 3-point attempts per 100 possessions. They love to launch from deep, and that makes up for a lot of their offensive limitations.
The Clippers will switch everything against the Wolves, and Minnesota ranks 22nd in points against switching defense this season, according to Second Spectrum. The Clippers hold opponents to the seventh-worst 3-point percentage league-wide, and that’s a huge part of the Minnesota’s offense.
The Clippers’ depth is important here, too.
They have a middling turnover rate, 14th in the league, but they actually give up a higher rate of points off turnovers at 17th. That will be a big part of this game. The Clippers actually had their second- and third-highest turnover rates of the season against the Wolves, going 1-1 in those games.
Ivica Zubac gets eaten alive by Karl-Anthony Towns, as most centers do. Towns scores 40 points per 100 possessions against the Clippers big man. However, look for Isaiah Hartenstein to have a big game on the roll against the Wolves’ at-level coverage.
Timberwolves Shooters are Key
The Wolves’ injury report is clean entering one of their biggest games in recent memory.
Their offense has been on fire since the All-Star break, but their defense has struggled. It will be interesting to see which scheme they use. The Wolves have gone more to switching defense, and the Clippers rank 29th this season against switching defense.
Much of that is tied to George’s injury absence, obviously, but that’s still a promising stat for Minnesota defending the Clippers’ pick-and-roll. The Clippers’ overall halfcourt offense isn’t great and their transition offense is worse.
Offensively, the Wolves are 10th in the league in scoring against switching defenses. Their shooters underperformed considerably against the Clippers in the season series, and while some of that is certainly the defense of the Clippers, leaving the Wolves open and expecting them to miss jumpers seems unlikely.
Anthony Edwards had mixed results but he’ll need a monster game if the Wolves are going to have a chance in this one. A tighter rotation should help Minnesota as their bench got dragged in several of these games.
According to Second Spectrum data, the Clippers shot above expectation based on shot location and shooter quality in all three contest levels (light, heavy, and uncontested) and the Wolves shot worse than expected from all three, including eight percentage points worse than expected on uncontested shots against the Clippers.
On 85 switch possessions this season, the Wolves held the Clippers to just 0.85 points per possession, which is terrible. The Wolves were able to create turnovers against the Clippers, generating the most and third-most points the Clippers allowed off turnovers this season.
I came in believing the Clippers were going to be the play, but the research has turned me around. This Wolves team, with homecourt, matches up better than what the regular season performance shows. The Wolves have edges in halfcourt offense and defense, and have the personnel with Patrick Beverley and Edwards to cause defensive problems.
I’m staying away from the total due to shooting variance, but I like the Wolves here.
Pick: Wolves -3