Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets Pick 3/17/19
Minnesota Timberwolves (32-37 SU, 34-35- ATS) vs. Houston Rockets (43-26 SU, 31-36-2 ATS)
When: Sunday, March 17, 2019 – 9 p.m. ET
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
Point Spread: MIN +6 / HOU -6 (Sportsbook.ag)
Total: O/U 225.5
Last Time Out: Minnesota lost to Utah 120-100; Houston beat Phoenix 108-102
Scouting the Timberwolves:
The Timberwolves have had a really rough season, sitting 7.5 games out of the 8th spot in the West with only 13 games left to play. They are effectively tanking at this point in the season, in hopes of trying to improve their position in the draft. They enter this game on a 2-game losing streak after getting blown out by the Utah Jazz.
Scouting the Rockets:
The Rockets shook off the loss to Golden State, bouncing back to win over the Suns. This game was much closer than the experts might have thoughts as they failed to cover the 12-point spread set by most sportsbooks. The Rockets are now 4.5 games out of 1st place in the West, and 3.5 games out of 2nd place. On the flip side, the Rockets are only one game in front of the Trail Blazers for 4th place, so they must continue to elevate their game if they want to ensure home-court advantage for at least the 1st round of the playoffs.
Head to Head:
This will be the 3rd meeting this season between these two teams, both of which have resulted in Minnesota wins. It should be noted that both games were played in Minnesota. The home team has won 7 out of the last 10, 6 of the previous 7, and the last 3 in a row in this series. Now that this game is being played in Houston, it should give the Rockets a slight advantage since they will be playing in front of their home fans.
Betting Trends to Consider:
Head to head, Houston has a slight edge when it comes to covering the spread. They have covered in 6 out of the last 10 games. Another trend shows that the over also has a slight edge when these two teams have played in recent years. In the previous 10 meetings, dating back to 2018, the total has gone over in 6 of the 10 games. However, when the game is played in Houston, the over is 1-3 in the last 4 games. Both teams have also recently struggled against the spread, but again Houston has a slight edge as they have gone 2-3 against the spread in their last 5 games overall, while Minnesota has gone 1-4 against the spread in their previous 5 games.
Minnesota will Cover if:
Someone on their roster steps up to fill the role of Jeff Teague. Teague has been ruled out of this game because of inflammation in his left foot. This puts the Timberwolves in a tough spot because Derrick Rose is also dealing with an injury and his status has yet to be announced. The Timberwolves will likely have to go deep down their bench to find guys to step up in this game. Two guys that come to mind that need to step up is Tyus Jones and Josh Okogie. Tyus Jones is only averaging 6 points per game, but no matter if Rose can go or not, Jones will be the next guy up to fill his role. As for Okogie, he is averaging 7.1 points per game and can play an increased role at the shooting guard position.
Houston will Cover if:
James Harden can play. We all know Harden is having an MVP type season with the number of points he scores and how he leads this team. On the other hand, Harden still misses a ton of shots, but nonetheless, his presence on the floor will propel the rest of the Rockets to get more open looks and play better in general. Especially against a team who is all but out of the playoff picture, look for the Rockets to feed Harden the ball on the assumption that he is good to play. If he cannot play, look for a guy like Eric Gordon, who is also having a nice season to step up and lead this Rockets team.
Matt’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
The potential loss of James Harden is enormous for this game, as he provides so much of the Houston offense. Chris Paul is another Rocket player that should be back in the lineup for this game since he was only held out for rest in the last game. The Timberwolves have even more injuries than the Rockets, and therefore the total will find its way under in this game in Houston.