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2024 NBA playoff picks, Game 3 best bets by proven model

A pivotal Game 3 gets underway on Friday as the No. 4 seed Los Angeles Clippers go on the road to play the No. 5 seed Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2024 NBA playoffs. Games 3 and 4 will be in Dallas after the first two games were split 1-1. These clubs squared off three times during the regular season and the Clippers won the season series 2-1. Kawhi Leonard (knee) is questionable for Los Angeles.

Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Mavericks are 4.5-point favorites in the latest Clippers vs. Mavericks odds via SportsLine consensus. The over/under for total points is 212.5. Before making any Mavericks vs. Clippers picks, you’ll want to see the NBA predictions and betting advice from the proven computer model at SportsLine.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has returned well over $10,000 in profit for $100 players on its top-rated NBA picks over the past five-plus seasons. The model enters the second week of the 2024 NBA playoffs on a sizzling 90-58 roll on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning more than $2,800. Anyone following it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Mavs vs. Clippers and just locked in its picks and NBA playoff predictions. You can head to SportsLine now to see the model’s picks. Here are several NBA odds and betting lines for Clippers vs. Mavs:

Mavericks vs. Clippers spread: Dallas -4.5
Mavericks vs. Clippers over/under: 212.5 points
Mavericks vs. Clippers money line: Dallas -185, Los Angeles +153
DAL: 34-19 ATS this season at home
LAC: 3-2 ATS this season against the Mavs
Mavericks vs. Clippers picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Mavericks can cover
Guard Luka Doncic continues to show why he’s one of the best players in the NBA. The 25-year-old threads the needle as a passer while scoring from all three levels with consistency. Through two games in this series, he leads the team in scoring (32.5), rebounds (9.5) and assists (7.5). In the Game 2 win, Doncic had 32 points, six rebounds and nine assists.

Guard Kyrie Irving is one of the best ball handlers in the league. Irving can get past any defender due to his speed and quickness with the ball. The former Duke product is acrobatic in the lane while owning a pure jumper. In this series, he’s averaging 27 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per contest. In Game 1, Irving dropped 31 points, seven rebounds and four assists. See which team to pick here.

Why the Clippers can cover
Center Ivica Zubac sets strong screens, is a solid rebounder on both ends and owns a soft touch around the rim. In this series, he leads the team in rebounds (13.5) with 16.5 points per game. The 27-year-old recorded back-to-back double-doubles. In Game 1, Zubac had 20 points and 15 boards.

Leonard would provide a huge boost for Los Angeles if he can go. Leonard can score from all three levels on the court with the instincts to be disruptive in the passing lane. The 32-year-old missed Game 1, but in Game 2 he racked up 15 points, seven rebounds and four steals. In 34 career games against the Mavericks, Leonard averages 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists. See which team to pick here.

How to make Clippers vs. Mavericks picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Over on the total, projecting the teams to combine for 225 points. The model also says one side of the spread hits 60% of the time. You can only see the model’s pick and analysis at SportsLine.

So who wins Mavericks vs. Clippers, and which side of the spread hits 60% of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Clippers vs. Mavericks spread to jump on, all from the advanced model that has returned more than $2,800 on its NBA picks this season, and find out.


Darvin Ham not considering benching D’Angelo Russell as Lakers try to avoid being swept by Nuggets

The Los Angeles Lakers are facing elimination as they prepare for Game 4 Saturday night against the Denver Nuggets. In each of L.A.’s three losses against the Nuggets, they’ve held leads entering halftime but haven’t managed to hold onto those leads at the end of the game, allowing the defending champions to exert their dominance every time. Lakers coach Darvin Ham said during Friday’s film session guys were “irritated, frustrated, fed up and ready to make a change” ahead of Game 4, but when asked if that change would include moving struggling point guard D’Angelo Russell to the bench, he said no.

Russell struggled heavily in Game 3, going 0 for 7 from the floor, including 0-6 from deep. Across the series, he’s averaging just 12.0 points on 32.6% from the floor and 30.8% from deep. At the tail end of L.A.’s loss Thursday night, there was a video showing Russell looking disconnected from the rest of the Lakers group during a timeout.

D’Angelo Russell was seen eating on the bench late in last night’s Lakers loss to the Nuggets 🤔

— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) April 26, 2024
Since Ham isn’t considering bringing Russell off the bench, that means he’ll need to significantly improve his performance on Saturday. The Lakers need his production on offense and to replicate what he was able to do during the regular season, where he was averaging 18 points, 6.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds on 45.6% from the field. Without his scoring, more responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. While both are doing their best, it hasn’t been enough, especially in the second half against Denver.

We’ll have to see what adjustments Ham and the Lakers make for Game 4 because if things don’t improve in some capacity, whether that’s Russell suddenly finding his rhythm or a role player stepping up, L.A.’s season could end Saturday night.


Juwan Howard, former Michigan head coach, to join Brooklyn Nets staff as assistant coach, per report

Just a day after announcing that Jordi Fernandez would be the next head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, another hiring announcement has been made. Fernandez is reportedly adding former University of Michigan head coach Juwan Howard as an assistant, per ESPN.

Howard’s coaching career started after he retired from the NBA in 2013 following a 19-year career that included winning two championships with the Miami Heat in his final two years in the league as well as an All-Star nod and All-NBA and All-Rookie honors. He immediately joined Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra’s staff as an assistant, and following six years with the Heat, he took the head coaching job at his alma mater where he was a member of the lauded Fab Five at the University of Michigan.

Over the five years Howard was at Michigan, he compiled a 87-72 record, and coached the Wolverines to two March Madness appearances where they went as far as the Elite Eight and Sweet 16, respectively. However, following back-to-back disappointing seasons without postseason appearances, Howard was fired by Michigan in March. In his last season with the Wolverines, the team posted a 8-24 record, their worst since his hiring in 2019.

Now, though, after spending time in the collegiate ranks, Howard will return to the pro level under first time head coach Fernandez. The Nets new coach took the Brooklyn job after spending six years under Michael Malone in Denver, and most recently as an associate head coach under Mike Brown in Sacramento.

Though Howard is returning to the NBA as an assistant, teams have shown interest in him becoming a head coach in the past. The Lakers reportedly viewed him as their top option back in 2022 before they hired Darvin Ham, but Howard, turned down the opportunity as he instead opted to stay at Michigan for a chance to coach both of his sons.

With Howard is back in the NBA, he will be joining a coaching staff that has a lot of work to do in order to turn around a Nets team that went 32-50 this season, and missed the Play-In Tournament by four games.


2024 NBA playoff picks, Game 3 bets from proven model

The Phoenix Suns will attempt to get back into its first round playoff series against the Minnesota Timberwolves when the teams square off in Game 3 on Friday at the Footprint Center in Phoenix. The Suns enter the game in an 0-2 hole in the best-of-seven series in the 2024 NBA playoffs, which is an unfamiliar spot for this team. The last two seasons they reached the Western Conference finals, and three years ago they famously made the NBA Finals, losing to the Bucks. The Timberwolves also are in an unfamiliar spot. This is just the second time in franchise history that they’ve been up 2-0 in a series.

Tipoff is at 10:30 p.m. ET. Phoenix is listed as a 5.5-point favorite in the latest Suns vs. Timberwolves odds while the over/under for total points scored is 208 Before making any Timberwolves vs. Suns picks or NBA predictions, be sure to see the NBA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine’s proven computer model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has returned well over $10,000 in profit for $100 players on its top-rated NBA picks over the past five-plus seasons. The model enters the second week of the 2024 NBA playoffs on a sizzling 90-58 roll on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning more than $2,800. Anyone following the model has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Suns vs. Timberwolves and just locked in its picks and Game 3 predictions. You can visit SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are several NBA betting lines and trends for Timberwolves vs. Suns:

Suns vs. Timberwolves spread: Phoenix -5.5
Suns vs. Timberwolves over/under: 208 points
Suns vs. Timberwolves money line: Phoenix -254, Minnesota +204
MIN: Timberwolves led the NBA in defensive efficiency (108.4 points per 100 possessions) in the regular season
PHX: Kevin Durant ranked fifth in the league in scoring (27.1 points per game)
Suns vs. Timberwolves picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Suns can cover
Despite the results of the first two games of the series, Phoenix knows it owned Minnesota during the regular season, winning all three matchups between the teams. In those three games, the Suns’ margin of victory was 15.7 points. That includes a 19-point win in Minneapolis in the regular season finale when the Timberwolves could’ve locked up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a victory.

In addition, Kevin Durant remains an elite scorer. The 14-time NBA All-Star ranked fifth in the league in scoring (27.1 points per game) during the regular season. Through the first two playoff games, he is averaging 24.5 points and shooting 53.1% from the field and 50.0% from beyond the 3-point arc. See which team to back at SportsLine.

Why the Timberwolves can cover
Minnesota has done an excellent job so far in this series in locking up Devin Booker. The four-time NBA All-Star ranked sixth in the NBA in scoring during the regular season (27.1 points per game). However through two games the Timberwolves have limited him to 19.0 points a game, 37.9% shooting from the field and 25.0% shooting from 3-point range.

In addition, Minnesota could face a Phoenix team that may be without one of its top contributors, Grayson Allen. Early in the third quarter of Game 2, the sharpshooting Allen aggravated an ankle injury early and was forced to miss the rest of the game. He is listed as questionable to play in Game 3. If he is unable to go, his absence would be a significant loss for the Suns as he led the NBA in 3-point percentage (46.1) during the regular season. See which team to back at SportsLine.

How to make Suns vs. Timberwolves picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Over on the total, projecting the teams to combine for 219 points. The model also says one side of the spread hits nearly 70% of the time. You can see the picks only at SportsLine.

So who wins Timberwolves vs. Suns, and which side of the spread hits nearly 70% of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Suns vs. Timberwolves spread you need to jump on, all from the model on a 90-58 roll on top-rated NBA picks this season, and find out.


‘I really did want to stay’

Before Jalen Brunson became a star with the New York Knicks, the Dallas Mavericks could have signed him to a four-year, $55 million contract extension, Brunson said on an episode of “All The Smoke” with Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes.

“I really did want to stay in Dallas,” Brunson said.

Brunson was eligible for that extension in the 2021 offseason and throughout the 2021-22 season, his fourth in Dallas. According to Brunson (both in an interview with Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes 11 months ago and in this recent one) and Brunson’s father, Rick (in an interview with ESPN’s Tim MacMahon 22 months ago), he told the Mavericks that he’d be willing to sign that on two occasions: Before the season started and in the first half of the regular season. Both times, they said the Mavericks declined to put the offer on the table.

“I wanted to stay there, I thought I would be there for a long time, and I liked my role there,” Brunson told Jackson and Barnes. “It’s funny because my agent was like, ‘You can do so much, you can get more, you can get more.’ I’m saying, ‘Well, I want to be safe. I’m not trying to gamble right now. This is not something you really gamble with if it’s out there.’ But [the Mavericks] were like, ‘We want to see where we’re at by like 20, 25 games into the season.’ We were like, ‘All right, well, if you’re not going to do it, I kind of don’t want to do it until after the season. I’m not trying to think about this [during the season].’

“So there was a period where Luka [Doncic] went out and I started to start. I was playing really well, I think I was averaging like 20 and like six, maybe, whatever. It was about that 20-, 25-[game] mark. And so we went back, we’re like, ‘Hey, if the deal is there, we’re thinking about it.’ Like, ‘I’ll do it, like right now.’ Still, it was no. It wasn’t a hard no — it was just like, ‘We want to see, we want to see.'”

As the trade deadline approached, Brunson said he figured he was about to get traded. Dallas did not trade him, and after the deadline passed, it put the four-year, $55 million deal on the table. But this was too late.

“I was like, ‘No, I think I’ve outgrown that now,'” Brunson said. “Personally, that’s what I thought.”

In the 2022 playoffs, with Doncic sidelined, Brunson led Dallas to wins against the Utah Jazz in Game 2 (in which he scored 41 points on 15-for-25 shooting) and Game 3 (in which he scored 31 points on 12-for-22 shooting) of the first round. The Mavericks went on to win that series and beat the No. 1-seeded Phoenix Suns in seven games before the Golden State Warriors eliminated them in the conference finals. The night their season ended, in an interview on Bally Sports Southwest, owner Mark Cuban told Marc Stein, “We can pay him more than anybody. And I think he wants to stay, and that’s more important.” Brunson saw the clip on Twitter.

“So he says that in an interview, whatever, like literally right after the game,” Brunson told Jackson and Barnes. “So I’m thinking, ‘OK.’ After that, it was just like crickets. From my point of view — I can’t speak to anyone else or my agent’s — from my point of view, it was crickets.”

.@jalenbrunson1 details his last season in Dallas. He was ready to sign a 4-year $55 million contract, but the Mavs front office balked.😳

Full episode of All The Smoke with JB drops tomorrow on our YouTube.

— All the Smoke Productions (@allthesmokeprod) February 21, 2024
Cuban sees things differently. Last April, he blamed Rick for the guard’s departure and said that Dallas didn’t have a chance to negotiate with Brunson in free agency. “Knowing the numbers now, I would’ve paid it in a heartbeat, but he wouldn’t have come anyway, Cuban told ESPN. He also claimed, per the Dallas Morning News, that, two days before the 2022 trade deadline, Rick had. Through agent Aaron Mintz, he demanded that the Mavericks dump salary so they could immediately renegotiate and extend Brunson’s contract.

That July, New York signed Brunson to a four-year, $104 million contract that now looks like a bargain. The previous month, it had hired Rick as an assistant coach. When Rick was a player, he was the first client of agent Leon Rose, who is now the president of the Knicks. Rose is Brunson’s godfather. In December 2022, the league took a second-round pick away from New York as punishment for having conversations with Brunson before the official start of free agency.

This season, Brunson is averaging 27.6 points on 59.6% true shooting (with a 29.2% usage rate), 3.8 rebounds, and 6.5 assists. He is one of the most popular human beings in the city of New York, and he probably should have started this past Sunday’s All-Star Game. On “All The Smoke,” when Jackson said Brunson’s decision to sign with the Knicks was the “best move you made,” Brunson nodded his head.

“Best move,” he said.


Jamal Crawford gives Warriors star Klay Thompson advice about coming off the bench

Now in the twilight of his career, Klay Thompson might have to get used to coming off the bench. Thompson was recently left out of the Golden State Warriors’ starting lineup for the first time since his rookie season, and three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford had some advice for him.

In last Thursday’s 140-137 win over the Utah Jazz, Thompson came off the bench and went berserk. He made seven of his 13 three-point attempts and ended the night with a game-high 35 points. Thompson looked rejuvenated after struggling for most of the 2023-24 season.

Crawford knows a thing or two about having success off the bench. Crawford joined ‘The Draymond Green Show’ and spoke about the adjustment Thompson will have to make.

“I actually reached out to Klay before he came off the bench because we talked about it on TV,” Crawford said. “Everybody is trying to bury Klay. I’m like, he’s still averaging 17 points. I said, ‘The fight is with himself because he’s been so legendary for so long. Klay’s battle is that, and obviously the injuries and everything. With him, I’d tell him to embrace it. I can give him a whole other wind. We don’t see legendary players like that who have had four-time champions and averaging 17 points be like, ‘I’m gonna come off the bench.'”

Crawford also laid out the benefits of Thompson playing a reduced role. When Thompson does get on the court, the offense will run through him, and he might be able to play more freely with less pressure on his shoulders.

“You’re the focal point of the offense when you do that,” Crawford said. “It gets you in a rhythm. Forget off the bench or starting. You’re gonna have better numbers doing this than you’re doing it right now. You may have more fun. Enjoy this s–t. … Enjoy it because it goes so fast, and you’ve earned that.”

Following last week’s game against the Jazz, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said Thompson dealt with the situation like a professional.

“I thought he handled everything beautifully, the way he came out — determined, competitive,” Kerr said. “That’s difficult, but Klay’s a champion. He’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met. He responded accordingly, and played a great, great game.”

The Warriors’ next game is a home clash against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, so we’ll see if Thompson keeps thriving in his new role.


Knicks star doesn’t rule out surgery, but says shoulder is ‘getting better’

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle hasn’t played since Jan. 27 because of a dislocated shoulder, and, in his first public comments since the injury, the All-Star said Wednesday that surgery has not been ruled out.

“I mean, we’ll see,” Randle told reporters, via SNY. “There’s still, like, necessary steps, and it’s a process to everything. I have to weigh out everything, ultimately, and decide from there. But right now I’m just focused on trying to avoid that, obviously, and get back on the court as soon as I can.”

Asked if he’d need surgery eventually, even if he were able to come back and play the rest of the season without it, Randle said, “I’ve heard many different opinions.”

Randle said that he knew his shoulder was dislocated as soon as it happened. While he’s been sidelined, he has been “diving into the film” with coach Tom Thibodeau, he said, in order to “see how I can get better and apply it when I’m able to really get out there on the court.”

Last week, SNY’s Ian Begley reported that the Knicks were optimistic about Randle’s progress and the chances of him being able to return this season without surgery.

“Every day I’m getting stronger, I’m getting better,” Randle said. “So just taking it a day at a time, just continuing to try to just stay locked in on what I have to do to continue just to get healthy. Not just physically but mentally as well.”

The Knicks are “taking it step by step” with Randle, Thibodeau told reporters Wednesday, via SNY.

“Right now, he’s preparing to come back to play,” Thibodeau said. “He’s putting a lot into it, he looks good, he’s got a great spirit about him, he’s working out twice a day. So all things are good right now.”

The previous day, Thibodeau told reporters that Randle is “meeting all the markers” and “moving around pretty good,” but hasn’t been cleared to practice yet.

This season, Randle has averaged 24 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 46 games. He was named to his third All-Star team, but was unable to participate because of the injury.

New York lost four straight games and five of six entering the All-Star break, but it was extremely shorthanded during that stretch. The Knicks will still be without its entire starting frontcourt – OG Anunoby, Randle and Mitchell Robinson – when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, but forward Bojan Bogdanovic, center Isaiah Hartenstein and wing Donte DiVincenzo are all expected to return to the lineup.

On the season, New York is 33-22 and fourth in the East, with only a half-game lead on the fifth-place Sixers. The Knicks rank eighth in the NBA in offensive rating, ninth in offensive rating and sixth in net rating. With Jalen Brunson, DiVincenzo, Anunoby, Randle and Hartenstein on the court, they have outscored opponents by 16.6 points per 100 possessions, but that lineup has logged only 180 minutes in 10 games.


2024 NBA picks, Jan. 16 best bets by proven model

Two of the best teams in the NBA meet at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday. The Philadelphia 76ers welcome the Denver Nuggets to town, with Philadelphia playing on the second end of a back-to-back. The 76ers are 15-6 at home and 25-13 overall, while the Nuggets are 28-13 overall and 11-9 away from Denver. De’Anthony Melton (back) is listed as out for Philadelphia.

For this game, SportsLine consensus lists the 76ers as 1.5-point favorites, and tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. The total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, or the over/under, is 233.5 in the latest Nuggets vs. 76ers odds. Before making any 76ers vs. Nuggets picks, you need to see the NBA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine’s advanced computer model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has returned well over $10,000 in profit for $100 players on its top-rated NBA picks over the past five-plus seasons. The model enters Week 13 of the 2023-24 NBA season on a sizzling 42-23 roll on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning nearly $2,000. Anyone following it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Sixers vs. Nuggets and just locked in its picks and NBA predictions. You can head to SportsLine now to see the model’s picks. Now, here are several NBA odds and betting lines for Nuggets vs. Sixers:

Nuggets vs. 76ers spread: 76ers -1.5
Nuggets vs. 76ers over/under: 233.5 points
Nuggets vs. 76ers money line: 76ers -125, Nuggets +105
DEN: The Nuggets are 7-13 against the spread in road games
PHI: The 76ers are 2-4 against the spread with no rest
Nuggets vs. 76ers picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Nuggets can cover
Denver’s offense attracts earned attention, but the team’s defense is also stout. The Nuggets are allowing only 1.13 points per possession this season, ranking in the top 10 of the NBA in defensive efficiency. Opponents are shooting only 46.5% from the field and 52.3% from 2-point range against Denver, and the Nuggets are giving up only 12.5 second-chance points per game. Denver is also in the top 10 in assists allowed (25.6 per game), and the defensive performance further fuels an elite offense.

The Nuggets are near the top of the league in offensive efficiency, scoring 118.6 points per 100 possessions, and Denver is in the top five of the NBA in field goal percentage (49.8%) and 2-point percentage (56.4%). The Nuggets are also shooting 37.8% from 3-point range, and Denver is elite in generating assists (29.7 per game) and avoiding turnovers (12.7 per game). From there, Denver is in the top tier of the league in producing points in the paint (54.9 per game), and the Nuggets secure 30% of available offensive rebounds. See which team to pick here.

Why the 76ers can cover
While the 76ers have a rest disadvantage on paper, Philadelphia does have the edge in playing at home at Wells Fargo Center. The 76ers are 15-6 at home this season, out-scoring opponents by 10.1 points per 100 possessions. Philadelphia is elite on both ends of the court, forming a strong overall baseline. On offense, the 76ers are putting up more than 1.19 points per possession and leading the NBA in both free throw creation (27.1 attempts per game) and free throw accuracy (84.0%). Philadelphia is also in the top eight of the NBA in fast break points, offensive rebound rate and second-chance points, with the 76ers committing a turnover on only 12.5% of offensive possessions.

Denver struggles to force turnovers on defense, creating only 12.6 per game, and Philadelphia does not have that issue with its own defense. The 76ers lead the NBA with 9.1 steals per game while posting a top-five mark in creating 14.9 turnovers per contest. Philadelphia also leads the NBA in 3-point defense, holding opponents to only 33.7% shooting from beyond the arc. See which team to pick here.

How to make 76ers vs. Nuggets picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Under on the total, projecting 228 combined points. The model also says one side of the spread hits well over 50% of the time. You can only see the model’s picks at SportsLine.


Why the Timberwolves are a strong underdog bet to win the Western Conference

It’s time to start taking the Minnesota Timberwolves seriously. The Western Conference’s top team entered Tuesday with a 28-11 record. Only the Boston Celtics, who are largely considered the favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference, have won more games so far this season. However, sportsbooks are consistently projecting the Timberwolves to be the fourth- or fifth-most likely team to win the Western Conference. Minnesota has made tremendous progress since falling short of the playoffs last season, but it has the goods to reach the final stage in 2023-24.

The most significant change from last year’s Timberwolves and this year’s is defense. Minnesota swung for the fences in 2022 by acquiring Rudy Gobert via trade. The former Utah Jazz big man was expected to anchor his new squad’s interior with his rim protection, but Minnesota finished with a middling defense that was largely underwhelming. That problem is long gone.

The Timberwolves are currently allowing a league-low 107.3 points per game and all but one of their starters has a defensive rating lower than 109. Of all the league’s five-man lineups with more than 300 minutes played this year, only the Celtics’ starting five can top the 106.8 defensive rating that Minnesota’s starters have posted.

Another thing that’s made a huge difference for Minnesota is rebounding. Gobert played for strong rebounding teams in Utah, but last year’s Timberwolves gave up the ninth-most rebounds per game to opposing teams. Only the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks have given up fewer rebounds than this year’s Timberwolves, though. Karl Anthony-Towns’ availability has had a lot do to with that drastic change.

KAT’s rebounding average dropped below 10.0 for the second time in his career in 2022-23, when Gobert came along and pushed him to power forward. Towns snared 8.1 boards per contest and appeared in just 29 games due to injury. A healthy offseason and a strong start to 2023-24 have given him time to adjust, though, allowing the Timberwolves to dominate with length on the glass and prevent second-chance opportunities. It’s clear that pairing the two in one frontcourt was a great idea, and the results show it. The Timberwolves went just 21-23 in games Gobert played in without KAT last season. They’ve gone 41-23 with both bigs playing since Gobert’s move to Minnesota.

The Timberwolves’ young core lacks legitimate playoff experience, but the numbers favor them making a strong run right now. The last four Western Conference champions have had top-10 scoring defenses and were top-10 in terms of limiting opposing teams’ rebounding production. If you’re looking for a dark horse to bet on, it’ll be hard to find a more enticing option than the Timberwolves’ Western Conference title odds at +700.


Kings coach Mike Brown fined $50,000 by NBA for on-court actions, off-court comments toward refs vs. Bucks

The NBA announced that Sacramento Kings coach Mike Brown was given a $50,000 fine following his actions during and after the team’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. Brown was irate for what he felt was inconsistent officiating during his team’s loss, and during the postgame press conference went on a five-minute rant, complete with props to show why he was so frustrated and what led to his ejection.

The league said Brown was given a fine for “aggressively pursuing a game official during live play, and for publicly criticizing the officiating.”

With just under 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, and with the Kings down 105-95, Brown can be seen yelling at a referee as the Bucks were in transition. He stepped onto the court and accidentally bumped into Bucks forward Pat Connaughton, and then got face-to-face with the official. He was quickly ejected and had to be held back by Malik Monk.

Mike Brown had to be held back by Malik Monk after he was ejected from tonight’s game 😬

— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) January 15, 2024
After the game while talking to the media, Brown brought in a laptop to show why he was upset.

“I just wanna show you guys why I got kicked out of the game,” Brown said as he prepared to show reporters clips of the game.

Brown proceeded to show a series clips of what he felt were bad foul calls on the part of the officials.

Mike busted out the film to break down why he got ejected tonight 😂

— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) January 15, 2024
“The referees are human, and they’re going to make mistakes, but you just hope that A) there’s some sort of consistency and B) there’s some sort of communication between the refs,” Brown said. “And the refs tonight, they were great, they communicated with me all night. But in terms of consistency, you guys saw it right here. Dame coming off the pick-and-roll and Foxy getting hooked and almost falling coming off the pick-and-roll.

“And, on top of that, if you get communication and you get some form of consistency in the game, OK, then you can live with some things. But the consistency that I [saw] tonight — wasn’t in my opinion — there. And then, I don’t understand the rule, if the rule is you’ve got to go vertical both hands up, how can you take away two free throws with a guy with his forearm down here? If they’re going to change the rule on me and say, ‘OK the forearm can be down here, and another one can be up there,’ then all right I know that going forward. But that’s not what the rule is, because we get called on [Sabonis] all the time and they tell us he’s got to have both hands up if you want to go vertical. That’s why I got kicked out.”

It’s a hefty fine for Brown, but I’m sure it was well worth it as he was able to get his point across to show what he felt has been some inconsistency in officiating. He’s the latest head coach to be given a fine for criticizing officials, with Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic getting hit with a $25,000 fine for a postgame rant that called the officiating in a loss against the Lakers a “shame for the league.”