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Brooklyn Nets (0-0) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (0-0)
BKN: -5. -210 ML, MIN: +9, +178 ML
I have the Brooklyn Nets 2.5 points better than the Minnesota Timberwolves in my power rankings, whereas the sports betting market adjudges the Nets to be about 2 points better. A half point edge over the sportsbook does not a profit make. However, when I juxtapose each teams’ star players performance in opening games of the season, I start to see more value here on Brooklyn.
Kyrie Aces Day 1’s + Any Game Against the Wolves
Kyrie played his first game of his NBA career on Boxing Day, December 26th 2011 after the NBA ended their latest lockout. His Cavs lost to the Toronto Raptors. Since then, Uncle Drew has gone 5-1 ATS in season openers with the Cavs and Celtics.
Irving’s teams are 3-0 SU & ATS against the T’Wolves since opposing point guard Jeff League signed with Minnesota. Irving is 11-2 SU & 9-4 ATS against the Timberwolves for his career, including 9-0 and 8-1 ATS since 2014. You may remember that was the year the Cavs landed Kevin Love and LeBron James. When he’s been on a good team, he’s beaten the Wolves.
Karl Anthony Towns has had the opposite experience on Day 1’s. KAT won his first career NBA game handily in October of 2015, and since then the Wolves have gone 0-3 SU & ATS in opening games. Opening day last season, the Wolves played the Spurs down to the wire while dealing with Jimmy Butler trade demand made right before the beginning of the season. Butler scored 23 in that contest. Towns had 8. A 22 points per game career scorer, Towns averages less than 15 points per game on Day 1. The Nets promise to bring an electric style of basketball, and I don’t think Towns will have a great day dealing with their pace.
The T’Wolves in Limbo
The Wolves may have some continuity advantage of the Nets, but I don’t think they have much of an edge here. Outside of PG, the Nets bring essentially the same team back as last year. Meanwhile, the elephant in the room for the Wolves – potentially offloading Andrew Wiggins – will be looming over the team. It’s no secret that Wiggins – who essentially had the same stats last year that he had as a rookie – is vastly under-performing his 5-year, $150 million contract. The season wasn’t a week over when T’Wolves fans sites started proposing trades for the former Jayhawk. Considering the strength of teams out West, I would bet that they move him before the February trade deadline.
We will likely see in preseason whether or not Nets continue to start Jarrett Allen or if the more veteran and more highly paid recent acquisition, De’Andre Jordan will take that role. Even in the caveman days of the early 2000’s, it would be hard to play two limited centers on the court together. Nowadays it’s next to impossible. Whoever gets the start, their sole purpose in this first game will be to bother KAT. If they are able to muck-up the frontcourt, the Nets have far too much speed at the guard positions for the Wolves to compete.
The T’Wolves have taken 6 of the past 8 match ups with the Nets, but this is a new era in Brooklyn, New York. The Timberwolves have gotten off a slow start in recent years, and I like the Nets to take advantage.
Angle: Take the Nets -5 over the Wolves, line available at FanDuel Sportsbook.