Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Philadelphia 76ers: Predictions, Starting Lineups (12/20/23)

The Minnesota Timberwolves (20-5) battle the Philadelphia 76ers (18-8) this Wednesday (12/20/23). Get Timberwolves vs. 76ers moneyline and spread odds, as well as predictions, starting lineups, injuries, and key matchups below.

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Philadelphia 76ers Prediction

In order to defeat Philadelphia, opponents must be able to slow down Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. Minnesota leads the NBA in Defensive Rating, and they are certainly up to the task.

Rudy Gobert has returned to his status as a hyper-elite rim protector, and he possesses the size to go toe-to-toe with Embiid. Karl-Anthony Towns provides Minnesota with another massive body, while Jaden McDaniels is arguably the best non-big rim protector in the NBA. The Timberwolves are subsequently allowing the 5th lowest finishing at the rim frequency while ranking 5th in terms of opponent shot quality, or degree of difficulty (per ShotQuality). Therefore, the Timberwolves can handle Embiid’s physicality, protect the glass, and deter drivers.

Meanwhile, Anthony Edwards is an effective on-ball stopper with the chops to reach an All-Defensive team in the future. He can certainly make Maxey work for every shot, especially in isolation. Finally, Nickeil Alexander-Walker has hounded opposing guards this season, so Minnesota owns yet another option to throw at Philadelphia’s primary ball handlers.

Overall, the Timberwolves have the tools to disrupt the 76ers’ offense and harass their best players. Can they get enough on the other end to cover?

Philly ranks 5th in Defensive Rating in large part because Joel Embiid is dominating defensively. Opponents are struggling to shoot around him at the rim because his positioning is better than ever. However, Minnesota has the shooting (7th in 3PT%) and perimeter scorers to attack on the outside. Anthony Edwards can drop 30 points at a moment’s notice, and he faces undersized guards here. Outside of De’Anthony Melton, Philadelphia lacks legitimately disruptive defenders to throw at Edwards. Towns’ size is a problem for Philadelphia’s forwards, while Conley and McDaniels can both score off the dribble.

The Timberwolves have not been able to consistently unleash offensive explosions yet, but they should generate enough offense here to cover.

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Philadelphia 76ers Prediction: Timberwolves +3.5

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Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Philadelphia 76ers Best Odds

The 76ers are three point favorites and own a 69.2 cover percentage this season – good for second best in the league. Minnesota needs to win this game about 41 percent of the time for their +140 moneyline to hold a positive expected value. They currently hold the top seed in the West due to a 20-5 record.

Minnesota Timberwolves Starting Lineup

PG: Mike Conley
SG: Anthony Edwards
SF: Jaden McDaniels
PF: Karl-Anthony Towns
C: Rudy Gobert

Philadelphia 76ers Starting Lineup

PG: Tyrese Maxey
SG: De’Anthony Melton
SF: Tobias Harris
PF: Robert Covington
C: Joel Embiid

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Philadelphia 76ers Injuries

Starting power forward Nic Batum is out for Philadelphia, while Robert Covington and Marcus Morris Sr. are both questionable. On the other side, Minnesota will have their full rotation at their disposal.

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Philadelphia 76ers Key Matchups

Rudy Gobert vs. Joel Embiid

Of the 60 players who have defended at least 200 two-point attempts, Gobert is holding opponents to the lowest 2PT% at a mere 44.6 percent. Meanwhile, Embiid leads the NBA in scoring at 34.4 points per game on a sparkling 64.5 true shooting percentage. This individual matchup is a clash of titans, and it will likely decide the outcome of the game.

Timberwolves Defensive Discipline

Philadelphia ranks third in free throw attempt rate, and it’s always a challenge to avoid sending Embiid to the charity stripe. Minnesota is sixth in opponent free throw attempt rate, so they have done an excellent job so far of defending without fouling. If the Timberwolves avoid this danger, then Philadelphia’s offense will struggle mightily to produce here.

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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