It is a Western Conference showdown on Friday as the Minnesota Timberwolves (25-29) travel to the Smoothie King Center to take on the New Orleans Pelicans (24-31). As they currently sit 12th and 13th in the Western Conference, it is easy to say that this season has not gone the way that either team had hoped for.
For the Timberwolves, this season has seen a coaching change, the trading of one of their best players and inconsistency up and down their roster. They come into this one having lost four of their last five, including a 122-112 loss to the Magic on Thursday. Now, in the second game of a back-to-back, they will look to get on track in New Orleans.
For the Pelicans, all of the focus lately has been on the trade that wasn’t. After weeks of speculation that Anthony Davis could be on the move, the Pelicans ended up holding onto him as the trade deadline passed. Still expected to move him in the summer, there was some speculation that the Pelicans might hold out Davis for the rest of the season to avoid injury. It appears, though, that both sides have agreed that he will play as he is expected to play in this one.
In this contest, the New Orleans Pelicans come in as 4-point favorites playing at home. The moneyline for this one sees the Timberwolves at +145 and the Pelicans at -172.
By The Numbers
Offensively, the New Orleans Pelicans have been a pretty solid team this season. According to basketball-reference, New Orleans ranks 4th in adjusted offensive rating, which estimates the points scored per 100 possessions while taking the opposing defense into account. Their rating comes in at 114.09 points. For the Timberwolves, they come in at 13th, with a rating at 111.67 points.
On the defensive end, both of these teams have struggled. Looking at adjusted defensive rating, the Timberwolves come in 18th in the NBA at 111.32 points while the Pelicans come in just a couple spots behind at 23rd with 112.45 points.
Timberwolves Look To Get On Track On The Road
After a relatively quiet trade deadline, the Minnesota Timberwolves are looking to get back to work. There were rumors that players like Jeff Teague and Gorgui Dieng could be on the move, but ultimately the Timberwolves were inactive and will finish out the season with their current roster.
Heading up that roster is a trio of quality scoring options. Leading the way for the Timberwolves is big man Karl-Anthony Towns. The center is averaging 22.9 points per game while shooting 50.7% from the field. He is also averaging 12.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Other than Towns, Andrew Wiggins (17.8 points, 4.7 rebounds) and Derrick Rose (18.3 points, 4.7 assists) have also been major contributors offensively.
Davis Looks To Move Forward Through The Rest Of The Season
Unfortunately for Pelicans’ fans, there seems to be a divide that can’t be mended between Anthony Davis and the organization. At this point, it seems like it is a matter of when, not if Davis will be traded. What is known, though, is that any Davis trade will not happen until the summer. That at least gives New Orleans’ fans some excitement as they will get to see one of the best in the business don their jersey for a little longer.
Although he has been injured at times and has played just 41 games, Davis has been sensational when he is on the floor. He is averaging 29.3 points on 50.8% shooting. He is also bringing down 13.3 rebounds per night and 4.4 assists. When he does come back on Friday, he will be without one of his main complements in Nikola Mirotic. The forward was traded on Thursday to the Milwaukee Bucks. Still, between Jrue Holiday (20.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 8 assists) and Julius Randle (20.1 points, 9.3 rebounds), the Pelicans can still be dangerous.
Pelicans Win And Cover
I can’t say that I love either team in this one, but there are a couple of reasons that I lean towards New Orleans. First, I think the return of Anthony Davis will be an emotional one, especially as fans will likely show him a lot of love at home. Additionally, as previously mentioned, the Timberwolves will be on the back half of a back-to-back. Between the energy from the home crowd and their fresh legs, I see the Pelicans not only winning this one but covering the spread as well. For my money, I am taking the Pelicans at -4.