Philadelphia 76ers vs Minnesota Timberwolves 2/25/22: Starting Lineups, Matchup Preview, Betting Odds, Live Stream

Philadelphia 76ers vs Minnesota Timberwolves Matchup Preview (2/25/22)

The Philadelphia 76ers (35-23) travel Friday night to face the Minnesota Timberwolves (31-28) in a battle between elite centers. Since Harden wasn’t ready to play, the 76ers limped into the All-Star break trying to patch the holes left by Curry and Drummond’s departure. They were a solid 3-2 in their last five games, but they had the 27th Offensive Rating and 17th Defensive Rating in that stretch. After an embarrassing 135-87 to the Celtics, the 76ers put forth a tremendous effort against the Bucks, defeating them 123-120. Embiid went off for 42 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 assists on 66 FG%. The 76ers are only a few games behind the 1st seed, so they need to take care of business down the stretch. Fortunately, James Harden is set to make his first start for the 76ers in this one. The offense has been too reliant on Embiid all season, so Harden brings a necessary diversification to the offense. The 76ers are completely healthy once Harden returns. 

The Timberwolves are only two games back of the Nuggets for the 6th seed – a vital spot since it avoids the play-in tournament. They entered the All-Star break going 2-3 in their last five games with the 18th Offensive Rating and 22nd Defensive Rating over that span. In their most recent game, the Timberwolves lost 103-91 to the Toronto Raptors. Karl-Anthony Towns produced a double-double of 24 points and 11 rebounds, but he didn’t get offensive help from his teammates. Anthony Edwards scored 6 points on 0/8 from the field and D’Angelo Russell scored 8 points on 2/11 from the field. When two of the top players combine for 2/19 from the field, there is almost no chance of success. The Timberwolves will look to get back on track against the new-look 76ers. The only player expected to be out is rookie McKinley Wright IV, and he has only played 3 minutes all season. With the roster healthy, the Timberwolves have the firepower to upset the 76ers.

Philadelphia 76ers vs Minnesota Timberwolves Betting Odds

In their only previous matchup on November 27th, the Timberwolves defeated the 76ers 121-120. The game went to double overtime after the Timberwolves led by 15 points at the half. D’Angelo Russell paced the Timberwolves with 35 points and 8 assists on 52 FG% and 60 3PT%. Towns produced 28 points and 10 rebounds on 68 FG%. Joel Embiid played exceptionally with 42 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 assists, but it wasn’t enough in the end. For this matchup on Friday, I like the 76ers to win a close game. Harden’s return changes everything and makes the 76ers absolutely lethal. Both defenses have struggled recently, and the offenses can both drop 130 points. Look for this game to be a high scoring one with mediocre defense. 

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TV Schedule

Date: 2/25/22
Time: 8:00 PM ET
Arena: Target Center – City, Minneapolis, MN
Channel: NBA League Pass

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Philadelphia 76ers Starting Lineup

PG: James Harden
SG: Tyrese Maxey
SF: Matisse Thybulle
PF: Tobias Harris
C: Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers Analysis

The 76ers have the two best players in this matchup: Joel Embiid and James Harden. Embiid is the current favorite to win MVP while averaging 29.6 PPG, 11.2 RPG, and 4.5 APG. He’s the engine of their offense, but also their defenses. Karl-Anthony Towns is an offensive force too, so Embiid’s rim protection will be vital to slowing down Towns. Embiid loves to post up and isolate, but Harden’s mastery in the pick and roll could cause Embiid to set the pick and roll more often. Harden is averaging 22.5 PPG and 10.2 APG on the season. His elite ball handling and playmaking gives the 76ers another dimension. Patrick Beverley will likely mark Harden in this one, which has its pros and cons. Harden (6’5” 220 lbs) is bigger and stronger than Beverley (6’1” 180 lbs), so Harden should be able to drive effectively. On the other hand, Beverely is a defensive pest who can bother ball handlers with his quick hands and unorthodox defensive stance. Harden will get the better of Beverley, but it won’t be easy. 

Tyrese Maxey is efficient as the primary playmaker, but he is no Harden. Maxey will become the secondary playmaker for the starting lineup and more of a spot up threat. He’s shooting 39% from three and will effectively spread the floor. Since the 76ers do not have a reliable bench ball handler, the 76ers may stagger Harden and Maxey’s minutes to ensure a capable playmaker is on the floor for the vast majority of the game.

Minnesota Timberwolves Starting Lineup

PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Patrick Beverley
SF: Anthony Edwards
PF: Jarred Vanderbilt
C: Karl-Anthony Towns

Minnesota Timberwolves Analysis

The Timberwolves require a great game from their entire big three of Towns, Edwards, and Russell. If only Towns shines again, the result will be a quick loss similar to the Raptors game. Edwards will face Matisse Thybulle, one of the best wing defenders in the NBA. Thybulle is averaging 1.8 SPG in only 26.4 MPG, a truly remarkable feat. Edwards is a natural scorer, but he is prone to having off nights. Thybulle’s length and anticipation will make it difficult for Edwards to score. Edwards does the majority of his damage in the pick and roll, which will be a tough task with Thybulle on the ball handler and Embiid patrolling the paint. The Timberwolves will certainly get Edwards his shots, but Russell is the likelier bet to be the 2nd option. 

James Harden and Tyrese Maxey are significantly easier to score on than Thybulle, so Russell has the opportunity to shine here. He carried the Timberwolves in their previous win over the 76ers, and I expect him to get the same offensive responsibility. He may not be as efficient as he was, but look for Russell to have a monster night. 

Philadelphia 76ers vs Minnesota Timberwolves Daily Fantasy Picks

I like Embiid, Russell, and Towns in this matchup. Embiid is a must-pick no matter the matchup. He’s unguardable because of his size and extraordinary skill. Embiid dropped 42 points and 14 rebounds on the Timberwolves in November, and I expect a similar effort. Towns is excellent offensively, but his rim protection and interior defense needs work. Embiid can exploit Towns here and secure a 40-point double-double. While Towns likely won’t match Embiid’s production, he can still contribute a 28-point double-double. Towns can spread the floor and force Embiid to leave the paint. Embiid is a great defender around the rim, but he struggles at times to come out to the perimeter. Look for Towns to have another great game.

Finally, I like Russell over Edwards. Russell’s matchup is far easier than Edwards’, and Russell already torched the 76ers. His ability as a playmaker adds value to his fantasy stock because he can rack up assists also. I did not choose Harden because I do not know whether he is on a minutes restriction. Hamstring injuries are tricky to overcome, so the 76ers may not want to rush him back on the court. 

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Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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