Typically on a Sunday night when my favorite football team is playing in a game where they could potentially clinch a playoff spot, I wouldn’t indulge in a late December NBA game that doesn’t really mean all that much but a game in the standings. But you see, the Chicago Bears run defense is by far the worst in the entire NFL and they are on the road playing against the leading rusher in the NFL and a quarterback that didn’t throw an interception until Week 14 of the NFL season. By about 9:30 p.m. I expect my Bears to already be facing a pretty hefty deficit, and that means it will be time to invest my energy in the Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Los Angeles Clippers game.
The Wolves and Clippers have played twice already this season and the games have been decided by a combined six points. That isn’t necessarily an indicator that the following two meetings will follow suit, but at the very least we can find solace in knowing that this is a matchup of two talented, fun, exciting, yet flawed Western Conference foes who have come together for some very entertaining contests over the last few years.
The matchup to watch is the one played in the paint; the high-flying duo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan banging bodies against the more vertically challenged Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. Statistically, Love and Pekovic have had the advantage over Griffin and Jordan in the two meetings (outscoring them 76 to 63, and outrebounding them 48 to 43), but the Clippers have won both games, including one in Minnesota. So apparently, the battle of the big guys doesn’t really carry that much weight. For the Wolves to win, Love needs to not only outplay Blake Griffin, he also needs to outplay, and make bigger plays late than Chris Paul, who has averaged 20.5 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals in the two meetings thus far this season. As I’ve said before, Kevin Love is one of my favorite players and watching him, his outlet passes and his ridiculous stat lines are some of my favorite things about the NBA. He needs to continue to evolve though. I’m ready for a 30-20 game against Los Angeles tonight, and hopefully Paul will come back with a 30-15 game of his own. Hopefully.
The Pick: Los Angeles 109, Minnesota 104
The Bonus Pick: Philadelphia Eagles 45, Chicago Bears 24
Another Bonus Pick: The Bears game really pisses my father off tonight.
National TV: None
Local TV: FSN+ (Minnesota) and FSW2 (Los Angeles)
Time: 9:30 p.m. EST