Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:04 AM

Inside the Paint - Wednesday

Straight Up – SU, Against the Spread - ATS

The NBA regular season concludes Wednesday with 12 games and even though 15 of the 16 seeds are locked up, none of the first round matchups have been determined.

The marquee matchup tonight takes place between the Minnesota Timberwolves (46-35 SU, 36-42-4 ATS) and Denver Nuggets (46-35 SU, 37-41-3 ATS).  

The winner will seal up the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. With a win, Minnesota could be as high as the seventh seed but it would also need Oklahoma City to defeat Memphis and San Antonio to beat New Orleans. Denver would be the No. 7 seed with a road win over the Timberwolves.

Minnesota opened as a 1 ½-point home favorite at [...] and the line has been pushed up to -4 as of Wednesday morning. Tip-off is set for 8:05 p.m. ET.

The pair met last Thursday on Apr. 5 and Denver captured a 100-96 win over Minnesota but failed to cover as a 4 ½-point home favorite. Jamal Murray had 22 points for the Nuggets while Nikola Jokic finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 26 points and 13 rebounds in the loss and the team didn’t have Jimmy Butler play despite dressing. Butler has played the last two games for the T-Wolves and has scored 18 and 15 points in just 23 minutes of each game.

Prior to Thursday’s loss, the Timberwolves had won four in a row against the Nuggets and that includes two straight at home. However, both of those victories came by exactly three points (128-125, 111-108) and tonight’s line is hovering in that neighborhood.

When it comes to current form, Denver has won six straight (3-3 ATS) games and two of the wins have come on the road. The Nuggets haven’t been great overall on the road this season (15-25 SU, 17-21-2 ATS) but they have captured four of their last six games as visitors while producing a 5-1 ATS mark.

Minnesota has been a much better club at home (29-11 SU, 19-19-2 ATS) but they’ve been a pedestrian 6-4 SU and 4-5-1 ATS in its last 10 at the Target Center. Monday’s 113-94 victory over the Grizzlies did come by double digits but it wasn’t exactly easy as the Wolves only led by three points at halftime. NBA expert Kevin Rogers believes Minnesota’s sense of urgency has been lacking down the stretch and he wouldn’t be surprised to see the home squad lose the play-in game at home.

He explained, “The Nuggets are playing their best basketball of the season by winning six straight games. Four of them came against playoff teams and another came against Minnesota by four points last week. The Wolves are coming off consecutive victories over the Lakers and Grizzlies, but Minnesota has not won three consecutive games since January. Out of Minnesota's 10 losses since the All-Star break, nine came against above .500 opponents, while only two wins occurred against playoff teams (Washington and Golden State).”

Since it’s the last night of the season, listed below are my score predictions for all 12 games plus some Best Bets as well. Also, I’ve include a few free picks from our top NBA handicappers for tonight’s card. As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end – Good Luck!

Score Predictions
Toronto 95 Miami 94
New York 95 Cleveland 105
Milwaukee 105 Philadelphia 107
Denver 100 Minnesota 101 (Best Bet – Under 214)
Memphis 98 Oklahoma City 115
San Antonio 104 New Orleans 100
Washington 110 Orlando 95 (Best Bet – Wizards -5)
Brooklyn 99 Boston 108
Detroit 105 Chicago 95 (Best Bet – Pistons -3 ½)
Utah 100 Portland 99
Houston 90 Sacramento 95 (Best Bet – Kings ML +140)
L.A. Lakers 110 L.A. Clippers 120 (Bet Bet – Over 217)

Free Predictions

Kevin Rogers - Boston

The Celtics have won all three matchups with the Nets this season as the two Atlantic division rivals meet tonight at TD Garden. Boston is 8-0 in the last eight meetings with Brooklyn, but the Celtics have lost four of their last five games down the stretch. The Nets have played well to close the season by going 5-2 in the last seven games, but two of those wins came against the Bulls and another victory came at Orlando. In spite of the Celtics' injuries, there is good value in them in their home finale prior to the playoffs.

Paul BoviNew Orleans

Conventional wisdom would point to the Spurs who are clearly more experienced and the team with the better pedigree. But I will lean the side of the Pelicans who have taken 2 of 3 versus the Spurs this year with the lone setback a bi-product of poor shooting along with PG Rajon Rondo's inefficiency on the court as he was a -23 in 24 minutes of play in only a five-point game. The Spurs have lost 7 road games in a row and while the line has moved from 4 to 3, and I believe it's based on name alone.

Joe WilliamsPortland

The No. 3 seed in the Western Conference is on the line when the Jazz invade Rip City looking to drop the Blazers. Utah is 2-1 SU vs. Portland this season, but they did take a 19-point loss in that one setback. The Jazz are playing in a back-to-back situation, and they're 0-4 ATS in their past four on no rest. Portland is 19-6-1 ATS in their past 26 home games, and 13-3 ATS in their past 16 against teams with a winning overall record. In this series, Utah is 1-4 ATS in their past five trips to PDX, and the home team and favorite are both 8-2 ATS in the past 10 in this series.

Vince AkinsOver Lakers-Clippers

In a final day of the season where a lot of teams motiavations can be questioned, there is not much mistery here. There is no reason for either of the teams to tank here but they also have nothing to play for.  In a local rivalry game, we see this being a spot for both teams to just shoot their shot and for the pace of this game to be rapid as both teams fire into the offseason.The Lakers played last night and lost to Houston 105-99.  The Lakers are 6-0 OU (23.17 ppg) on the road off a loss as a dog in which Kentavious Caldwell Pope was not the high scorer.Even in that game, LA played extremely fast even if it did not end in a big scoring total.  They did get 35 points on the fast break.  Teams with at least 33 fast break points last game are 153-112-4 OU. The Lakers shot really well at the foul line, but got just 15 attempts there at the game and made only 13.  The Lakers are 6-0 OU (16.08 ppg) with no rest off a loss in a home game in which they had less than 15% of their points from free throws. The Clippers got even less from the line Monday, going just 8-of-19 from the foul line in a 113-100 loss to New Orleans.  The Clippers are 6-0 OU (11.75 ppg) at home off a home game in which they had less than 10% of their points from free throws.It was also a fast break game where the Clippers controlled the boards with 60 of them.  Teams with at least 59 rebounds last game are 307-233-8 OU.

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