Celtics will rebound against Timberwolves, plus another First Four selection for Wednesday

Hello sports fans, this Wednesday Chris Bengel is with you again.

We have two more play-in games tonight (one of which I’ll play below), but the main course of the NCAA tournament begins Thursday afternoon. I always wonder how many less productive jobs are on the opening days of the NCAA tournament. Are most people still looking at worksheets or sweating out the first potential irritation in their class? I dare say it’s more the latter.

Now let’s dive into Wednesday’s picks.

All Eastern times and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The hot ticket

Celtics v Timberwolves, 7:30 p.m. | Television: NBA.TV

Latest Odds:

Boston Celtics -5.5

  • key trend: The Timberwolves are 0-4 ATS in their last four home games.
  • The Pick: Celtics -5.0 (-110)

The Timberwolves have had some troubles at home lately, so I’m siding with the Celtics here for a real pushback.

The Timberwolves have just an ATS record of 17-19 and are still starless Big Man Karl-Anthony Towns. Minnesota aren’t exactly a juggernaut on the defensive end of the court, as they average 115.7 points per game (18th in the NBA). Opposing teams also shoot at each other from beyond the arc 37.1 percent, which is good for 24th place in the league.

This is the kind of spot where Anthony Edwards needs to have a big game if the Timberwolves are going to keep it close. I just don’t see it against a Celtics team that defends very well. On the other hand, the Celtics have a dynamic offense that ranks fourth behind the Kings, Warriors and Thunder with 117.7 points per game. They also possess the fifth-best percentage in three-point shooting (37.7). The combination of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will be an absolute nightmare for the Timberwolves defense.

The two teams fought back on December 23, with the Celtics walking away with a 121-109 win. In that particular contest, the Celtics defense was able to hold the Timberwolves on just 10 of 32 shots (31.3 percent) of three. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Celtics hold the Timberwolves in check again and cover that number.

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💰 More choice


No. 11 Nevada at No. 11 Arizona State, 9:10 p.m. | Television: TruTV
The Pick: Arizona State -2.0 (-110) —
Nevada has been favored to enter the NCAA tournament in each of its last four games, but has dropped three of those contests. The wolf pack is simply in free fall and I expect that trend to continue at this point.

Nevada has actually dropped four of its last six ATS games coming into Wednesday’s game. In their last five games, the Wolf Pack have averaged just 68.2 points per game after being one of the top-scoring teams in Mountain West for most of the season. Meanwhile, Arizona State poses a big challenge for Nevada as the Sun Devils keep their opponents on just 41% shooting in the season – good for third place in the Pac 12.

This is a team that had to scrape and scrape to sneak into the NCAA tournament, so they clearly aren’t afraid of the pressure that comes with that scenario. Gimme the sun devils at this little spread.

Key trend: The Wolf Pack are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games against a team with a win rate of over .600

Celtics at Timberwolves, 8 p.m. | Television: NBA.TV
The Pick: Jayson Tatum over 28.5 points (-139)
– As I mentioned earlier, I think the Celtics should have no problem hitting the basketball from the touchline against the Timberwolves. That’s up to Jayson Tatum.

Tatum has at least 30 points in four of his last six games. When those two teams faced off on December 23, Tatum scored 30 points in 10-of-22 shooting and did it all by making just one of his six tries out of three. I dare say he’s probably 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 case.

key trend: Tatum has scored at least 30 points in four of his last six games

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