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NBA expert Jonathan Macri is here with his prediction and picks for the Friday night matchups between the Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Cleveland Cavaliers and more.
ANALYSIS

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Prediction: It's Time to Take the Cavs Seriously

When: Friday, December 10, 8:00 p.m. ET

Where to Watch: NBA League Pass

Spread: Timberwolves -1

Total: 213.5

Click Here For Timberwolves vs Cavaliers Odds

Timberwolves vs. Cavaliers Prediction

How long will it take us to start taking the Cavs seriously?

Cleveland has covered nine games in a row. They now tower over the rest of the league with a 19-5-2 mark against the spread. At nearly an 80 percent clip, only the Warriors come remotely close at 71 percent, and then after that, no one has covered more than 65 percent of their games.

It is anything but smoke and mirrors. The Cavs have the 6th best net rating in basketball – higher than the vaunted Brooklyn Nets, the early powerhouse Miami Heat, supposed East contenders like the Sixers and Hawks, and 17 spots higher than the Los Angeles Lakers. Does anyone think this is how Year Four of post-Cleveland LeBron would be going for each team?

Even so, Vegas continues to be skeptical. The Cavs are in Minnesota tonight, which has been better than expected this season but is still just 11-14 both in the standings and against the spread. In addition, they are under .500 at home and barely outscoring teams on the year in their arena, with just a plus-11 point differential in 15 games.

Cleveland, meanwhile, has outscored its opponents by 55 points on the road this season, which is fourth in the league behind only the Jazz, Warriors, and Nets. They are also 10-2-1 ATS away from home and have a road margin against the spread of plus-11.3 – nearly double the next best team.

Show the Cavs the respect they deserve and take the points on the road.

Timberwolves vs. Cavaliers Pick

Houston Rockets vs. Milwaukee Bucks Prediction

When: 8:00 p.m. ET

Where to Watch: NBA League Pass

Rockets vs Bucks Odds

Speaking of teams getting disrespected, how would you like to be the one that owns the longest winning streak in the NBA and is getting nearly double-digit points at home?

That's the plight of the Houston Rockets, winners of seven straight, six of which they've covered (they beat Orlando by two on a 3.5-point spread). Their other wins: the Bulls, Hornets, Thunder Pelicans, and most recently, the Durant-less Nets.

Not exactly a murderer's row, but not a bunch of patsies either. Why has this happened? Quite simply, Jalen Green got hurt. This year's No. 2 overall pick is a special talent but is also raw, and he was killing Houston whenever he was on the floor. With Green on the court, the Rockets were getting outscored by nearly 21 points per 100 possessions this season. In over 600 minutes without him, they're outscoring teams by 8.2 points per 100 possessions, which would be among the best ratings in the league.Green will be out for this one, as will Kevin Porter Jr, another talented but inconsistent guard. The remaining players are mostly a savvy bunch of vets who know how to score, as their 118.6 offensive rating over the last seven games shows.

In the Bucks, the Rockets get a team that seemed to be hitting their stride but has also lost their last two on the road outright to the Raptors and Heat, with their offense struggling in each game. Milwaukee has a negative margin against the spread this season, and while they should still be favored here, it shouldn't be by this many points. Go with the home team.

Rockets vs. Bucks Pick

Toronto Raptors vs. New York Knicks Prediction

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

Where to Watch: MSG/NBA League Pass

Raptors vs Knicks Odds

It turns out that hitting the road didn't cure everything that ails the Knicks, who got waxed against the Pacers on Wednesday night. New York was playing on the second night of a back-to-back and looked tired, having flown in from Texas where they beat the Spurs the previous night. Indiana also surprised everyone by playing free and loose following the report that their front office was ready and willing to blow up the team.

Now they go into Toronto to face the Raptors, who are just 3-10 against the spread at home this season. Part of the issue has been their usually rock-solid defense, which is ranked just 23rd in the league in home defensive rating. The Knicks, meanwhile, have the third-best road offensive rating in the NBA, trailing just the Jazz and Nets.

Predicting outcomes for this season's Knicks is a futile task, as they have been defined by inconsistency more than anything else. Then, just when you think they've figured something out, they go on to defy expectations and surprise you one way or another.

That being said, they're getting points in a game they almost have to win with upcoming games against the Bucks and Warriors. The Raptors just lost at home to the Thunder and are still without OG Anunoby. It's probably best to stay away but go with the Knicks if you can't help it.

Raptors vs. Knicks Pick

Article Author

ROI N/A
NBA
insightpicks

Dean of Knicks Film School, host: KFS Pod, co-host: Pick N Pod. There isn't much about Knicks basketball that Jonathan doesn't know and he's here to break down the big games each and every week.

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