NBA Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Knicks vs. Timberwolves, Bulls vs. Suns (Wednesday, March 31)

Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Deandre Ayton #22 and Mikal Bridges #25 of the Phoenix Suns.

It should be a busy Wednesday night across the association with 10 games on the schedule, including two on ESPN: Mavericks vs. Celtics and Bucks vs. Lakers.

Our NBA analysts walk you through their favorite bets for Wednesday’s slate featuring a pick on a home favorite, and a play on the under and a side in the same matchup.

You can check out their in-depth analysis for each game below.

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NBA Odds & Picks

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Knicks vs. Timberwolves Total 8 p.m. ET
Knicks vs. Timberwolves Spread 8 p.m. ET
Bulls vs. Suns Spread 10 p.m. ET

New York Knicks vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Pick Under 218.5
Book PointsBet
Tipoff 8 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass

Raheem Palmer: In his first season as head coach of the New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau has completed turned this franchise around. The Knicks rank third in Defensive Rating, holding opposing teams to just 108.2 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass.

A big part of that is their pace, which is the slowest in the league at just 96.56 possessions a game. Despite allowing the sixth-highest frequency of 3-point field goal attempts, the Knicks are holding opposing teams to just 33.7% from behind the arc, first among NBA teams.

It’s no surprise, the under is 29-17 in Knicks games this season, per Bet Labs. While many people, including myself expected opponent 3-point shooting percentages to regress to the mean, that just hasn’t happened, so they’re doing something right defensively.

The Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t prepared to take advantage of all the open 3s the Knicks give up without D’Angelo Russell. The Wolves rank 14th in 3-point shooting frequency (36.7%) and 25th in 3-point shooting percentage (35.1%).

In reality, the Wolves aren’t equipped to score efficiently against the Knicks defense at all — they’re scoring just 107.4 points per 100 possessions, 26th among NBA teams. They also rank 28th in field goal percentage at the rim and from mid range, so I’m not expecting a huge offensive output from this team.

For what it’s worth, the Knicks aren’t scaring anyone offensively either as they’re just 24th in Offensive Rating (108.6). Although the Wolves are downright abysmal on defense, giving up 115.9 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes, these two teams played on Feb. 21 and the Knicks could only muster 103 points on 1.07 points per possessions in a game which had just 96 possessions.

With a slow paced game, two anemic offenses and one of the best defenses in the league, I’ll take the under as my projections make this game 213.

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New York Knicks vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Pick Knicks -3.5
Book PointsBet
Tipoff 8 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass

Kenny Ducey: The last time these two sides played, the game wasn’t even close. The Knicks controlled the contest almost the entire way, leading by as many as 21 points before dropping focus and intensity on defense and allowing the Timberwolves to make a game of it. Still, the Knicks managed to cover that short spread, and I expect them do it again quite comfortably.

In that game, Karl-Anthony Towns managed to score 27 points to go along with 15 rebounds, Minnesota shot 45.7% from deep, yet the Knicks still won. Just playing the probabilities here, it’s not likely that any of that happens twice given how the Knicks defense has performed all season long.

The Knicks ran third in points in the paint allowed per game this season, second in restricted area field goal percentage, and fourth against any shot coming inside eight feet, per NBA Advanced stats.

They’re also a respectable 10th in Rebounding Rate, which checks in far better than the Timberwolves, who sit 28th in the NBA in that metric. As far as Towns goes, he should not enjoy anywhere near the same level of success this go around.

There’s also the Knicks’ supreme 3-point defense that Raheem mentioned above — while some may say it’s just pure luck, it still stands atop the NBA and has been an impressive 35.9% over the last 10 games. These guards and wings have stood the test of time when it comes to closing out on opposing shooters.

Perhaps the Timberwolves luck out and repeat one of these performances in rebounding, paint scoring and shooting, but it’s highly unlikely that they repeat all three. With that, this shouldn’t be close. I’d bet this to -5.


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Chicago Bulls vs. Phoenix Suns

Pick Suns -7
Book DraftKings
Tipoff 10 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass

Justin Phan: This game against the Chicago Bulls on the second leg of back-to-back is not an ideal spot for Phoenix Suns, but I would be a bit surprised if Zach LaVine plays.

LaVine didn’t do anything physically in practice Tuesday and Bulls head coach Billy Donovan called him questionable in advance of Wednesday’s game. LaVine is still dealing with a sprained ankle that he aggravated in Monday’s loss, and in when discussing his status Donovan said, “It’s not great.”

Garrett Temple didn’t return for the Bulls Monday in their loss to the Warriors because of a hamstring injury, so it remains to be seen who would start at the off guard position if LaVine has to miss time (The Bulls also have Coby White listed as questionable with neck pain).

That said, I like the Suns to cover here. I grabbed them at -6 and would bet them up to -7. I’m also interested in the under depending on where it lands and will log any more plays I make in the Action app.


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