Portland (10-27) concludes a five-game road trip after going 2-2 over the first four games. Carmelo Anthony scored a season-high 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting and provided heroics on Tuesday night, hitting the game-winning shot in the victory over the Raptors. Melo is averaging 16.5 points in 23 games since joining the Blazers. Hassan Whiteside has also emerged averaging 18.3 points and 17.5 rebounds over his last six games. The Blazers lead the NBA in free-throw percentage (81.9%). Portland’s defense is ranked ninth in field goal percentage (44.4%) but 29th in rebounds allowed per game (47.9).
Minnesota (15-23) is still unsure when All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns will return to the lineup. Towns missed his 11th straight game on Tuesday with a knee injury. Jarrett Culver has filled the scoring void in the absence of Towns, pouring in a season-high 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting and knocking down 3-of-5 from 3-point range in Tuesday’s loss against Memphis. Culver had scored in double figures in each of his last five games. Minnesota is ranked 28th in field-goal shooting (43.2%) and 29th in 3-point shooting (32.2%). The Timberwolves are dead last in the league in rebounds allowed per game (48.4).
ESPN’s FPI gives Minnesota a 52.7% chance of winning this game. We break down the line and offer our best bets and analysis for Thursday’s matchup between the Blazers and Timberwolves.
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Blazers vs. Timberwolves Game Details
Date: Thursday, January 9
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Target Center (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
TV: NBCS Northwest, FS North, NBA TV Canada
Spread: Blazers -2.5
- PF Skal Labissiere (knee) out
- C Jusuf Nurkic (lower leg) out
- SG Rodney Hood (Achilles) out
- PF Zach Collins (shoulder) out
- C Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) questionable
- SF Jake Layman (toe) questionable
- Blazers are 16-22 SU and 15-21-2 ATS this season
- Timberwolves are 14-22 SU and 15-19-2 ATS this season
- Over 19-19 in Blazers games this season
- Over is 22-17 in Timberwolves games this season
Analysis & Pick
This feels like a game between two teams going in opposite directions. The T-wolves continue to flounder without their Karl-Anthony Towns, and the Blazers seem to be percolating as they gear up for a run at the playoffs. It has been refreshing to see Carmelo Anthony shine with his new team. The veteran has been better than expected in Portland and continues to show why he deserves to still be playing in the NBA. I expect C.J. McCollum to play better in this game than he did on Tuesday against the Raptors when he was making his return from an illness. McCollum scored just 10 points on 5-of-19 shooting in 35 minutes but should fare better against a Minnesota defense that ranks in the bottom half of the league in all major defensive categories. If Towns doesn’t play, and we expect he won’t, this line could continue to drift towards Portland as the day wears on. Take the short road favorite.
PICK: Blazers -2.5
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith