The Boston Celtics (45-20) wrap up a three-game road trip Thursday when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves (38-28) as small favorites. While the Timberwolves are still without leading scorer Jimmy Butler due to a knee injury, the Celtics are expected to have Kyrie Irving back in the lineup.
NBA betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 113.2-108.6, Celtics (NBA picks on every game).
Why the Celtics can cover the spread
After missing Monday's 105-89 rout of the Chicago Bulls, Irving is expected to play at Minnesota, giving Boston a clear edge at the point guard position. Irving sat out against the Bulls due to soreness in his left knee, but his teammates stepped up in his absence, most notably shooting guard Jaylen Brown with a team-high 21 points.
Despite losing the first game of their road trip to the Houston Rockets last Saturday, the Celtics still covered the spread as 8.5-point road underdogs, and they have beaten the number in three straight games now.
Why the Timberwolves can cover the spread
Minnesota will be back home following a three-game road trip that saw the team go 1-2 both straight up and against the spread without Butler. The Timberwolves remain one of the best home teams in the league at 25-7 SU and 16-15-1 ATS, crushing the Chicago Bulls 122-104 as 7.5-point favorites in their last game at the Target Center on February 24.
Even though their play has suffered without Butler on the court, they have some value as home underdogs in this spot, going 3-1 SU and ATS in their last four games under that scenario and covering 12 of 15 in that situation going back even further.
Smart betting pick
Boston has won the past three meetings with Minnesota SU and ATS, including the only matchup between the teams this season 91-84 as a three-point home favorite back on January 4.
The Timberwolves saw Butler struggle in that game, scoring 14 points on 3-of-12 shooting from the field. They may be struggling without him lately, but they have not played since last Friday and will enter this one focused. Look for Minnesota to thrive again as a home underdog and pull off the upset to end their skid.
NBA betting trends
Boston is 5-1 ATS in its last six games.
The total has gone over in four of Boston's last five games.
The total has gone over in nine of Minnesota's last 11 games.
All NBA odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.