Victor Wembanyama is a bonafide star, but that doesn’t mean he won’t take his lumps. Enter the Minnesota Timberwolves, who boast a ferocious frontcourt. Will Wemby Mania run wild or will the Spurs rookie be stifled by Minny’s bigs?
Some teams drew short straws this week with the NBA’s hastily-scheduled games to complement the In-Season Tournament. The Raptors have to face the Heat, for example, and the Nuggets now visit the Clippers three times this season.
The Minnesota Timberwolves lucked out, welcoming the Western Conference-worst San Antonio Spurs to town tonight. Wolves fans also benefited, otherwise seeing Victor Wembanyama only once this season. NBA odds certainly favor Minnesota, positioning the home team as a double-digit favorite.
Someone would have to be a real Grinch to bet against Wembanyama when seeing the sensational rookie in person, yet here we are in our free NBA picks as we preview the Spurs vs the Timberwolves on Wednesday, December 6, with tip set for 7:30 ET.
Spurs vs Timberwolves odds
Spurs vs Timberwolves predictions
Victor Wembanyama is the real deal. Do not take this coming doubt to be overall skepticism. Any rookie averaging 19.3 points and 9.7 rebounds needs to be lauded. But Wembanyama’s game is far from the well-rounded product many want to believe, and that has shown up offensively this season, particularly of late.
The Minnesota Timberwolves defense is too good to give Wembanyama repeated open looks from deep, but it could do so and not worry too much. He is shooting only 27.1% from beyond the arc while taking 5.3 such shots per game. Worse yet, Wemby has shot 20.8% (11-of-53) in his last nine games.
Players simply should not be taking 5.9 threes per game while making just 1.2 of them.
The San Antonio Spurs can welcome and encourage that because landing last year’s No. 1 pick does not mean there isn’t reason for them to tank now. But it is not going well for Wembanyama and there is no reason to think a week off will lead to a massive uptick from him.
Doubting Wembanyama from deep tonight goes beyond his struggles. As one might expect from a team with three centers (shooting better than 40% from deep combined), the Timberwolves play slowly. Their 99.14 possessions per game ranks No. 10 in the league, compared to the Spurs being the fastest team in the NBA at 103.38 possessions per game.
Remove pace and Minnesota still ranks No. 11 in frequency of 3-pointers against, and only one team gives up fewer threes while also keeping teams below the 33.6% from deep allowed by the Timberwolves. Somehow the Blazers have that kind of defense beyond the arc, if little else going for them.
In other words, maybe keep this angle in mind when San Antonio heads to Portland for two games just before New Year’s.
Wembanyama has not been shooting well enough to have his threes prop juiced to the Over. Minnesota does not give up enough threes — let alone open ones — to justify that, either. Both trends would need to reverse to cost this value tonight.
My best bet: Victor Wembanyama Under 1.5 made threes (+106 at FanDuel)
Spurs vs Timberwolves same-game parlay
Victor Wembanyama Under 1.5 made threes
Karl-Anthony Towns Over 2.5 made threes
Spurs team total Under 108.5
The Spurs give up 3-point attempts on 40.2% of their possessions, not necessarily a defensive weakness on its own but certainly one when combined with letting opposing teams shoot 39.7% from deep, the second-worst defensive rate in the NBA.
Wembanyama is going to need to fight with countryman Rudy Gobert down low, allowing Karl-Anthony Towns to do what he does best, shoot over defenders from deep. Towns is hitting 41.8% of his 3-point attempts this season, and that is underselling his success given how terribly he started the season.
Towns opened the season 8 of 34 through his first six games. Since then, he has gone 33-for-64 from deep, including 8-for-15 in his last two. He should hit and hit often from deep tonight.
One aspect of Minnesota’s success this season that did not take any time to show itself has been its defense, most notably its defense at home. Only one of 10 opponents has cruised past 100 points at Target Center, the Kings leaning on 48.6% shooting from deep to score 124 to win their In-Season Tournament game.
Six of the other nine opponents scored 100 or fewer. The Celtics managed 101 in regulation. Two more cracked 100 only thanks to garbage-time buckets in the final minute.
Tonight might be a blowout, but the Timberwolves will still care a good bit about defense. It has become a mainstay in Minneapolis, something applauded by fans, and that has only increased its intensity.
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Spurs vs Timberwolves spread and Over/Under analysis
Minnesota opened as an 11-point favorite on Monday, the rare moment an NBA line can be bet for days at a time. The news that Anthony Edwards is questionable to play, an upgrade from doubtful the last couple of games, pushed the line up to -12 on Tuesday, where it has remained.
Edwards’s availability will not get a strong update until shortly before game time, but when that comes, the line may push further, which would be an overreaction. He is usually worth more than a point to the spread, but some hesitance in expectations for him tonight may be prudent. Hip injuries do not go away quickly.
The total jumped from an open of 224 to 226 on Tuesday and then 230.5 across Wednesday morning. Perhaps that is a bet on rest.
Spurs vs Timberwolves betting trend to know
The Spurs are 3-6 against the spread on the road this season, including 1-5 in their last six. Find more NBA betting trends for Spurs vs. Timberwolves.
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Spurs vs Timberwolves game info
|Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
|Wednesday, December 6, 2023
|7:30 p.m. ET
Spurs vs Timberwolves latest injuries
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