Minnesota Timberwolves vs New Orleans Pelicans: Predictions and Odds

How to Watch

Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA

When: 8:00 PM EST, 31 December 2018

How (TV/Radio): Fox Sports North Plus and Fox Sports New Orleans | WRNO 99.5 FM, 830 WCCO

Minnesota Timberwolves

Head Coach: Tom Thibodeau {All-Time 349-244 | CHI, MIN}

The Timberwolves are thirteenth in the Western Conference. Just a game up on the New Orleans Pelicans heading into the new year.

When Jimmy Butler was moved to the Philadelphia 76ers, it was thought that the Wolves could finally take the next step and succeed as a team. While their depth has improved, the likes of Towns and Wiggins haven’t showed the ability to lead their team to crucial wins.

Being in the West is a cruel circumstance. With their record the Wolves would be battling for eighth in the Eastern Conference. Regardless the talented young Wolves are yet to show they can compete with the best of the NBA.

New Orleans Pelicans

Head Coach: Alvin Gentry {All-Time 463-524 | MIA, DET, LAC, PHO, NOP}

The New Orleans Pelicans may have a salvageable record of 16-20 in the Western Conference, but they still sit fourteenth in the West. The West is hyper-competitive and the Minnesota Timberwolves are the first in their sights to climb back up the table.

In their last ten the Pelicans have struggled. Going 3-7 in their last ten matches included a five game losing streak against two East and two West coast squads.

The Pelicans got their revenge on the second leg of a home-and-home against the Mavericks, and will look to carry their momentum into the new year after they attempt to take thirteenth from the Timberwolves.

What’s At Stake?

It’s been a tight affair between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the New Orleans Pelicans. Over 55 regular season games, the Pelicans barely lead the all-time series 29-26.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have a single game over the New Orleans Pelicans. They will surely want to maintain their ranking in the West with a win over the Pelicans.

The New Orleans Pelicans are fourteenth in the Western Conference, just a loss separates them from the Timberwolves. A win would place them ahead and in thirteenth place in the West.

Questions to answer

Can the Timberwolves protect the ball?

Will the Pelicans beat the Wolves on the glass?

We are going to compare the Minnesota Timberwolves and the New Orleans Pelicans in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

Minnesota is 7th in turnovers, 1st in opponent steals per game

Tom Thibodeau runs a tight ship with the Minnesota Timberwolves and it is apparent in their ability to take care of the ball. Averaging only 13 turnovers per game, while allowing only 6.4 steals per game, the Timberwolves rarely make a mistake running their offence.

The Pelicans are a very switch happy and capable defensive team. With Anthony Davis and Julius Randle at the forward and centre positions, wing players switch out on to defenders knowing their bigs can support them at the rim.

Turnovers simultaneously take away a teams chances while providing more for the opposition. The Timberwolves are generally locked down on their decision making, but the Pelicans have the defence that can challenge them in ways most teams can’t.

The Pelicans are 2nd in Rebounding

The Pelicans obviously have a transcendent talent in Anthony Davis, but it is the teams ability to rebound as a unit that propels them in their matches. Sixth in defensive rebounding, and third in offensive rebounding, averaging to a average of second in the league, the Pelicans battle on both ends.

The Pelicans front court is excellent on the glass. Davis (13 RPG), Randle (9.3 RPG), and Mitotic (9.2 RPG) all put in an excellent effort on the boards for the Pelicans. To add to that excellent average, even the Pelican backcourt, Holiday (4.5), Payton (5.2), and Hill (3.6) stand out amongst guards in the rebounding category.

The Timberwolves will have to be wary of the Pelicans as they look for easy tip-ins and opportunities to run off of securing rebounds. It will be up to Towns, Gibson, and Dieng to slow the Pelicans. If they cannot, it will be a simple night for the Pelicans.

Minnesota Timberwolves Roster Notes

G Jeff Teague (ankle) is expected to miss the next 7-10 days.

New Orleans Pelicans Roster Notes

F Nikola Mitotic (ankle) was ruled out on Friday against the Mavericks and is questionable for the match against the Timberwolves.

G Elfrid Payton (finger) is hopeful to return to the lineup by next week and is unlikely to play against the Timberwolves.

Head-to-Head: Karl-Anthony Towns vs Anthony Davis

Karl-Anthony Towns

20.9 PPG | 2.7 APG | 8.6 RPG | 0.9 SPG | 1.7 BPG | 3.1 TOV | .487 FG% | .387 3P%

Anthony Davis

28.1 PPG | 4.6 APG | 12.9 RPG | 1.7 SPG | 2.7 BPG | 2.2 TOV | .502 FG% | .319 3P%

Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis are two sides of the coin that is the modern big-man. Towns a dangerous offensive threat from any position on the court and Davis who is the defensive presence that comes only once in a generation.

Karl-Anthony Towns is a talented player, but his will was called into question at the beginning of the season. Regardless Towns still produces well for the Wolves but has taken a step back this season. A strong performance against the NBA’s best front court players will surely boost both his confidence and that of his squads.

Anthony Davis seems to have carried the Pelicans every single season he has been with them. He no longer has the supporting cast to win games with him and seems primed for a move if the Pelicans don’t act quickly. There’s not a person that can stop Davis on the Timberwolves, but should the Wolves key in on him as a team it will be a long night for The Brow.

Minnesota Timberwolves at New Orleans Pelicans Predictions and Odds

The odds will be updated as they are made available.