The No. 7 Minnesota Timberwolves will play host to the No. 8 Los Angeles Clippers in the first play-in game out in the Western Conference on Tuesday night. Tip-off is set for 9:30 p.m. ET and can be seen on TNT. The winner of this game will grab the No. 7 seed in the playoffs and face off against the No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs. The loser will have one more shot at booking their spot as they’ll play the winner of the No. 9 Pelicans vs. No. 10 Spurs, who face off on Wednesday night.
Let’s take a look at some of the best bets ahead of Tuesday night’s contest, with odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Timberwolves vs. Clippers, 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
The Clippers won three of the four meetings between these two sides during the regular season. While the T-Wolves won the last game with a 122-104 score, that came in January when Paul George was sidelined with an elbow injury that kept him out from mid-December until the end of March. The Clips, with PG13, have had Minnesota’s number all season as they won the other three games comfortably by double digits.
The Clippers picked the perfect time to get hot as they’ve won their last five games straight headed into the play-in tournament. They’ve gone 6-1 since George’s return, although he only played in five of those games. Still, it includes wins over Utah, Milwaukee, and Phoenix, proving that they’re here to play. The Clips have gone 5-2 ATS in their last seven outings as well.
The Timberwolves are on the verge of qualifying for their second proper postseason appearance in the last 17 years, and their first appearance since the 2017-18 season. Still, even with Minnesota playing host, I’m leaning toward the Clippers to cover and win at Target Center.
Pick: Clippers +3
Over/Under: Under 230.5
The Timberwolves have gone over the total in their last five games straight, while the Clippers have only done it twice in that same stretch. The play-in tournament is a whole different ballgame, though, and defenses on both sides are sure to be elevated to the next level with everything on the line. The Clippers have only allowed 108.4 points per game all season, but that drops to 102.8 in their last five and an impressive 98.3 points through their last three, good for second-best in the league through that stretch.
The T-Wolves are on the opposite end, allowing an average of 125.7 points per game from their opponents in their last three, which is the fourth-worst mark in the league. Take the under in this one as both sides will be putting their best defensive foot forward.
Player Prop: Paul George under 27.5 points (-115)
During a normal season for PG-13, it’d be ridiculous to pick him to get less than 27 points in a high-stakes game like this. But George is still very recently back from injury, and he’s only put up more than 23 points one time in the five games he’s played since his return. In fact, he’s only averaged 22.6 points per game since he’s been back, and 19.75 in his last four when you leave out his 34-point performance against Utah.
Of course, there’s always a decent change George could turn it up for this play-in game, but it seems to me that he doesn’t have his shooting quite back where it needs to be yet. He’ll likely put in a decent performance, but the Clippers will need to rely on others like Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris Sr. to lift LA past Minnesota.
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