Celtics will bounce back vs. Timberwolves, plus another First Four pick for Wednesday
Greetings sports fans, it’s Chris Bengel back with you on this Wednesday.
We have two more play-in games tonight (one of which I’ll have a play on below), but the main NCAA Tournament course gets underway on Thursday afternoon. I always wonder how much less productive workplaces are on the opening days of the NCAA Tournament. Are most people still looking at work spreadsheets, or are they sweating out the first potential upset in their bracket? I’d venture to say it’s more than likely the latter.
Now let’s dive into Wednesday’s picks.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Celtics at Timberwolves, 7:30 p.m. | TV: NBA.TV
- Key Trend: The Timberwolves are 0-4 ATS in their last four home games.
- The Pick: Celtics -5.0 (-110)
The Timberwolves have had their fair share of struggles at home as of late, which is why I’m siding with the Celtics in a true bounce-back spot here.
The Timberwolves possess just a 17-19 record ATS and are still without star big man Karl-Anthony Towns. Minnesota isn’t exactly a juggernaut on the defensive end of the court, as they’re yield 115.7 points-per-game (18th in the NBA). Opposing teams are also shooting 37.1 percent from beyond the arc against them, which is good for 24th in the league.
This is the type of spot where Anthony Edwards is going to have to have a huge game if the Timberwolves want to keep it close. I just don’t see it happening against a Celtics team that defends very well. On the other hand, the Celtics have a dynamic offense that ranks fourth in scoring at 117.7 points-per-game behind only the Kings, Warriors, and Thunder. They also own the fifth-best three-point shooting percentage (37.7) . The combination of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown is going to be an absolute nightmare for the Timberwolves defense.
The two teams did do battle back on Dec. 23, with the Celtics coming away with a 121-109 victory. In that particular contest, the Celtics defense was able to hold the Timberwolves to just 10-of-32 shooting (31.3 percent) from three. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Celtics hold the Timberwolves in check once again and cover this number.
Brackets are here! Get back in your pools and join our Men’s and Women’s Challenges for the chance to win a new SUV and a college basketball dream trip! No purchase necessary. See Terms & Rules for details.
💰 More Picks
No. 11 Nevada at No. 11 Arizona State, 9:10 p.m. | TV: TruTV
The Pick: Arizona State -2.0 (-110) — Nevada has been favored in each of its past four games entering the NCAA Tournament but has dropped three of those contests. The Wolf Pack are simply in a free fall, and I expect that trend to continue in this spot.
Nevada has actually dropped four of its last six games ATS coming into Wednesday’s game. Over their past five games, the Wolf Pack are averaging just 68.2 points-per-game after being one of the Mountain West’s top scoring teams throughout the majority of the season. Meanwhile, Arizona State presents a significant challenge for Nevada, as the Sun Devils hold their opponents to just 41 % shooting on the season — good for third in the Pac 12.
This is a team that had to scratch and claw in order to sneak into the NCAA Tournament, so they’re clearly not afraid of the pressure that will come with this scenario. Give me the Sun Devils at this small spread.
Key Trend: The Wolf Pack are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games against a team with a winning percentage above .600
Celtics at Timberwolves, 8 p.m. | TV: NBA.TV
The Pick: Jayson Tatum Over 28.5 Points (-139) — As I mentioned earlier, I think the Celtics should have no problem scoring the basketball from the perimeter against the Timberwolves. That’s because of Jayson Tatum.
Tatum has poured in at least 30 points in four of his past six games. When these two teams faced off back on Dec. 23, Tatum scored 30 points on 10-of-22 shooting and did all of that with only making one of his six attempts from three. I’d venture to say that it’s likely that he’s a little more productive this time around. After all, Tatum has drilled at least five long-range shots in three of his last four games. Look for Tatum to score early and often in this one.
Key Trend: Tatum has scored at least 30 points in four of his last six games