Cleveland Cavaliers vs Minnesota Timberwolves Picks and Predictions

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves will clash on Saturday in what will be a pivotal mid-January game for both teams and their second-half pushes this season. Here’s what to know about the key matchup. 

Cavaliers enter 2023 among Eastern Conference’s best… 

The Cavaliers are one of the bigger surprises in the NBA this season, sitting over 10 games above .500 and just a handful of games out of the Eastern Conference No. 1 seed. The Cavs have been led this season by star guard Donovan Mitchell who in his first season with the franchise has averaged 28.8 points and 4.8 assists per game.  

The former Louisville standout was traded to the Cavs in September of Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, and Ochai Agbajia as well as a haul of draft picks. With the Cavs, Mitchell has had a career year, averaging the most points of his career. The strong first half of his season has seen the sixth-year pro go from a +6000 favorite to win the NBA MVP in the preseason to as high as a +3000 MVP to win it at the time of writing.  

The Cavaliers have also seen strong contributions from the fourth-year guard, Darius Garland who averaged 21.4 points per game this season, and power forward Evan Mobley, who contributed 14.2 points on a nightly basis. 

After being +1600 favorites to win the Eastern Conference entering the season, the Cavaliers are now as low as +700 on sportsbooks in Ohio. They also have +150 odds to win the Central Division and +1800 odds to win the NBA Finals this season. Ohio bettors can book on Ohio’s various sportsbooks using the promos and bonuses provided, here. 

Minnesota trying to find its groove in January… 

Minnesota, on the other hand, is led this season by guard Anthony Edwards, who’s averaging 23.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game this season. Center Kevin Anthony-Towns isn’t too far behind Edwards posting an average of 20.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game this season.

The Timberwolves, however, are getting contributions from up and down their bench with seven total players averaging 10 points or more this season. Despite those efforts, the Timberwolves have struggled to get or stay above .500 this season.

Since starting the season 4-2, the Timberwolves have never been more than one game above .500. In the meantime, they’ve also seen themselves fall as far as five games below .500 following a six-game losing streak in late December that dropped their record from 16-16 to 16-21.  

However, since the start of the new year, the Timberwolves have been playing some of their better basketball this season, winning four straight with wins over the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trailblazers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Houston Rockets.  

The rough first half of the season for the Timberwolves has seen them go from +175 to win the Northwestern Division to start the season all the way to +5000 in mid-January. 

cleveland cavaliers minnesota timberwolves picks and predictions
Dec 10, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards (1) drives to the basket as Cleveland Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman (16) and forward Kevin Love (0) defend during the second quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports
How the two teams match up… 

This will be an interesting matchup as the two teams are quite opposite of each other. The Cavaliers this season have been one of the lower scoring teams in the league as well as one of the slowest teams. The Cavs are only averaging 95.5 possessions per game this season, the lowest in the NBA. Their 111.5 points per game are among the five lowest across the association as well.

To go along with their low-scoring but deliberate offensive game, the Cavaliers under head coach J.B. Bickerstaff have the league’s best defense, allowing just 106.6 points per game. The Timberwolves are middle of the pack both offensively and defensively, averaging 114.7 points per game offensively while allowing 115 points a night defensively.

Under head coach Chris Finch, the Timberwolves are one of the faster-paced teams in the league, averaging 101.3 possessions over 48 minutes. While the Timberwolves look to push the ball upcourt consistently and get quick looks, the fast-paced offense has hurt them on the defensive side of the court as well, giving them opponents valuable extra possessions off quick misses and turnovers.  

The two teams met earlier this season on November 13, a 129-124 win for the Timberwolves in Cleveland. In that game, the Timberwolves were able to hold onto a 20-point lead heading into the fourth quarter despite being outscored 40-25 in the final 12 minutes of the game. D’Angelo Russell led the Timberwolves that evening with 30 points while Cleveland’s Darius Garland had a career night, dropping 51 points in the losing effort.  

If their November clash is any sign of what’s to come later this week, it should be another exciting game, though it may not be as high scoring with both teams playing quality defensive basketball the last few weeks. Over the last five years, the Cavaliers are 4-6 against the Timberwolves and have split the last four matchups. Last season, the two teams split their season series at a game aside.  

Tip-off between the Cavaliers and Timberwolves on Saturday is set for 8:00 p.m. at the Target Center in Minneapolis. 

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