All those missing players from Thursday’s Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Utah Jazz matchup make the Under worth a look for your NBA picks.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Utah Jazz
Thursday, December 23, 2021- 9:00 PM EST at Vivint Arena
I’m not going to split hairs with you: This sucks. The omicron variant has taken the coronavirus pandemic to a new level, and the NBA is responding by... letting everyone get sick. For the moment, you still can’t play if you’ve tested positive – the league insists on all the teams signing replacement players instead.
But that will change soon, probably not long after the lucrative Christmas Day games are done. In the meantime, if you’re a betting person, it’s Happy Holidays all around. Anytime you inject a little chaos into the NBA betting market, it’s the sharps who profit. And you can’t get much more chaotic than Thursday’s game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz.
The Timberwolves have five players on the COVID-19 list at press time, and the Jazz has... zero (!). The early NBA odds are on hold as I write this, but a wager on either Utah or the Under seems perfectly cromulent.
In Sickness and in Health
Taking the Under as a blanket NBA pick during this phase is worth considering. It’s possible these glorified exhibition games will turn into shootouts instead, with a palpable lack of defense, but shooting is the No. 1 thing in this sport, and the Timberwolves (15-16 SU and ATS) are missing a lot of quality shooters.
Anthony Edwards, Patrick Beverley, and Jarred Vanderbilt are all in the protocol; so are Josh Okogie and Taurean Prince. Adding injury to illness, Naz Reid is questionable for Thursday’s game with a left calf contusion.
That leaves the Wolves with not much at all beyond Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell. It’s almost unfair that the Jazz (21-9 SU, 16-14 ATS) have basically a full complement for this matchup. This should be a bloodbath of epic proportions, probably more than the betting public can imagine.
But let’s get back to the Under for a moment. It went 5-1 in the six games the NBA managed to play on Monday, and 3-2 on Tuesday. The previous five days, the Over went 22-14. The Under was a sharp pick early in the season when the players were getting used to the new Wilson basketballs; that trend was bound to be a short one, but now COVID-19 is moving the needle back in the non-scoring direction.
Or so it would seem. We’re not sure exactly who’s going to suit up for Minnesota in this contest, and at least a handful of teams, if not more, have canceled their morning shootarounds, so that doesn’t help us research-wise. Utah may very well prove to be the right bet once the NBA lines come out; they did just open as 9.5-point home favorites overseas, but they’re projected as 14- point faves at FiveThirtyEight.
That Under, though. I just spoke with my colleagues here at the home office, and we’re calling it: Take Utah if you can get them at –9.5 or better. And if they don’t suddenly have five of their own players land on the COVID-19 list. Wait until closer to tip-off just in case, and may the sphere be with you.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.