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Timberwolves vs. 76ers Prediction: Embiid Faces League’s Best Defense Amid MVP Quest

Written by: Grant Mitchell
Published December 20, 2023
10 min read

The Philadelphia 76ers (18-8) will host the Minnesota Timberwolves (20-5) in a midweek matchup between two of the top teams in the NBA Wednesday evening.

The Sixers had their six-game win streak snapped in a loss against the Chicago Bulls on Monday. Meanwhile, the Wolves are fresh off a fourth-quarter comeback win on the road against the Miami Heat and have won their last five games against Eastern Conference opponents.

Here, we will react to the betting odds and share our favorite picks for the Timberwolves vs. 76ers matchup on Wednesday.

Timberwolves vs. 76ers Prediction

Timberwolves vs. 76ers Betting Odds for Wednesday, Dec. 20

The 76ers are favored on their home floor by 3.5 points. They’re 10-4 when playing in their building, though the Wolves are 9-4 on the road.

TeamsSpreadMoneylineTotal
Minnesota Timberwolves+3.5 (-115)+135Over 226.5 (-110)
Philadelphia 76ers-3.5 (-105)-160Under 226.5 (-110)

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Philly has been one of the best and most impressive teams in the league since the first week. The ascension of Tyrese Maxey (25.8 points, 6.7 assists) to an All-NBA level combined with Joel Embiid (34.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists) becoming even more efficient and dominant in Nick Nurse’s new system has helped make the departure of James Harden nothing more than a distant memory just about one-third of the way into the season.

The Sixers are the proud owners of the best net rating in the NBA (11.4), which means they outscore their opponents by an average of 11.4 points per 100 possessions.

However, we’d be remiss not to mention that Philly has done a bit of stat-padding recently. Their last seven games were played against the bottom five teams in the East, and they won six with an average scoring differential of +20.

Peeling back the curtain will reveal the 76ers are only 6-7 against teams above .500. One of those losses was against this same Wolves team in Minnesota, in which Embiid did not play. Three players tied for the team lead with 16 points, while Anthony Edwards put up 31 points for the Wolves.

Looking at the positives again, the Sixers take the most free throws per game, are third in rebound rate, fifth in defensive rating, and eighth in three-point percentage. They create tons of rim pressure because of Embiid and use that to get trips to the charity stripe or find open shooters while also controlling the glass and defensive tempo.

All that said, they’re about to get arguably their toughest test of the year. The Wolves won nine of their last 10 games and have the fourth-best road net rating in the league.

There’s no mistaking the calling card of this Minnesota team: defense. They allow the fewest points per game and the lowest field goal percentage, and they’re 11th in personal fouls per game.

Rudy Gobert, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, also leads all starting centers in lowest field goal percentage allowed as the nearest defender. That combined with Karl-Anthony Towns’ size and improved defense will make it tough for Embiid to dominate opponents the way he has recently (40 points per game in December).

Where the Wolves can fall into trouble is on offense. Although Anthony Edwards (24.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists) has developed as a playmaker out of the pick-and-roll and veteran Mike Conley is fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio, their shot-making when attacking the rim leaves something to be desired (18th in shooting percentage on shots 10 feet or less from the basket). 

At the same time, Minnesota can bail itself out with strong three-point shooting (38% - seventh). Edwards also has the ability to take over the game, like he did during their 17-point comeback against Miami. 

A key determinant here will be the Wolves’ ability to clear the defensive glass. Despite starting two 7-footers in the frontcourt and having athletic wings such as Edwards and Jaden McDaniels, they’re only 16th in defensive rebound rate. Philly, meanwhile, is seventh in offensive rebound percentage and sixth in second-chance points.

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Timberwolves vs. 76ers Prediction and Betting Pick

It isn’t breaking news to say that Gobert and Towns’ ability to fend off Embiid will largely determine how this game unfolds. 

Embiid scored 39 and 32 points in two games last season and averaged 25.9 points for his career when matched up with Gobert. However, this is the best the Wolves’ defense has looked by far, and he hasn’t faced a winning team in weeks.

Minnesota has the personnel to mitigate Maxey’s speed and rim pressure but will need to be committed to just that. They’ll also need to continue to hit their long-range shots at a high clip to match Philly’s scoring runs.

Because the Wolves are riding high and the Sixers have struggled against winning teams, we like the underdogs on the road—don’t be surprised if they win either.

How to Watch Timberwolves vs. 76ers on 12/20/23

  • When: Wednesday, Dec. 20 @ 7:00 p.m. ET

  • Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

  • TV: NBA TV

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AUTHOR

Grant Mitchell

397 Articles

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.

In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.

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