Cleveland (37-16) at Minnesota (21-34)
When: Tuesday, February 14th 2017
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: NBA TV
The Cleveland Cavaliers are playing much better of late and will look to keep that momentum going when they visit the young Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night. The Cavs have won seven of nine including a 125-97 home victory over Minnesota on February 1st, a game star forward Kevin Love missed with back spasms. Cleveland doesn’t plan on having Love back on Tuesday either after he felt pain in his left knee during Saturday’s 125-109 win over the Denver Nuggets. Love sitting out will allow recently-signed forward Derrick Williams more of a chance to prove he belongs on the team after he totaled 19 points on 5-of-6 shooting in his first two games with the team since signing a 10-day contract. Williams, a former No. 2 overall draft pick in 2011 from Arizona, is on his fifth team in six seasons. Star LeBron James is averaging 26.8 points on 61.2% shooting and 11.2 assists in six games this month after a 27-point effort against Denver. Shooting guard Iman Shumpert (sprained left ankle) missed the last three games and is questionable for Tuesday. Cleveland will play Indiana at home on Wednesday before heading into the All-Star Break.
The Timberwolves loss to Cleveland two weeks ago was the first of four straight setbacks, but the team has rebounded to win two of their next three games including a 117-89 thrashing of the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. Andrew Wiggins led the way with 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting in the win and is averaging 29 points on 58.2% shooting over the last three games. Wiggins is second on the team in scoring at an average of 22.6 points and picked up his level of play when starting guard Zach LaVine (18.9 points) was lost for the season due to an ACL tear on February 3rd. Wiggins is averaging 27.4 points in five games without LaVine in the lineup and scored 20 or more in each of the last 13. Reserve small forward Shabazz Muhammad is seeing more minutes with LaVine out as well and scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting in Friday’s loss to New Orleans to reach double figures for the fourth time in the last five games. Shooting guard Brandon Rush is averaging 4.8 points on 29.2% shooting in five games while starting in place of LaVine. Leading scorer Karl-Anthony Towns (23.7) poured in 36 points in the loss to New Orleans on Friday, but had an even more productive 22 points against the Bulls, as he shot 8-of-11 from the field.
The Timberwolves are a nice young team on the rise, but they’re not ready for Cleveland yet. The Cavs are on a roll including a lopsided win over Minnesota just a few weeks ago. I’ll take the road favorite here.
Pick: Cavaliers -3.5