The playoffs are here, and it all starts with NBA play-in tournament action Tuesday.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, Iowa’s closest team in the play-in tournament, face the Los Angeles Clippers at 8:30 p.m. on TNT, and in-state sportsbooks have you covered.
For new sports bettors in Iowa, BetMGM offers a great deal to help you ring in the postseason: Deposit $10 into your account and bet on a NBA moneyline. If either team his a 3-pointer, you win $200 in bonus bets.
Here’s what you should know about the Los Angeles-Minnesota matchup, how the play-in tournament works and other early postseason games.
How does the NBA play-in tournament work?
The NBA play-in tournament for each conference features the seven, eight, nine and 10 seeds.
The seven and eight seeds clash, with the winner of that game clinching the No. 7 spot in the playoffs. Next, the nine and 10 seeds face off. The loser is eliminated from the playoffs and the winner faces the loser of the seven-eight matchup. From there, the final spot in the playoffs is decided between the loser of the seven-eight contest and the winner of the nine-10 game.
Think of it this way: If your team is a seven or eight seed heading into the play-in tournament, it only needs one win to clinch a spot and can afford a loss. For a nine or 10 seed, it must win two games without losing.
Betting odds for Timberwolves vs. Clippers
Most sportsbooks in Iowa list Minnesota as a 3-point favorite for Tuesday’s contest. The best odds for a Clipper cover are on BetMGM at +3.5.
What to know about betting on the Minnesota Timberwolves
Since the all-star break, Minnesota has been one of the better teams in the West. The Timberwolves are 15-8 since all-star festivities — the fourth-best mark in the Western Conference — thanks to the dynamic duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards.
Towns has looked every bit the part of a superstar big. He averaged 25.6 points and 9.8 rebounds during the regular season while shooting 41% from 3-point range.
Meanwhile, Edwards improved in nearly every statistical category during his second season in the NBA. Consistency has been an issue at times, but Minnesota is 6-2 this year when Edwards scores more than 30 points. The Timberwolves are 19-9 when he shoots better than 45%, too.
One under-the-radar name to keep an eye on: Jarred Vanderbilt. He’s the anchor of Minnesota’s defense, ranking ninth in the league in steal percentage and 24th in block percentage. When he’s flying around defensively, the Timberwolves’ team success follows; Minnesota is 20-8 this year when Vanderbilt notches at least two steals.
Tuesday’s NBA play-in game is inside the Target Center, where Minnesota is 22-17-1 against the spread this season. The Timberwolves are 26-15 straight up at home this year.
It’s not out of this world to expect plenty of points, too, since Minnesota has been on a tear as of late. The over hit in 50 Timberwolves games this season, including the last five.
What to know about betting on the Los Angeles Clippers
Things are falling into place at the right time for the Clippers.
Paul George is back, and based off his recent play, it’s hard to fathom he missed 43 games with an elbow injury on his shooting arm. Look no further than his 34-point performance in Los Angeles’ 25-point comeback win over the Utah Jazz on March 30.
And then there’s Norman Powell, who returned after fracturing his foot in February. He’s not a household name, but Powell is a quality 3-and-D perimeter player (42% 3-point shooting this season, ranked 66th in total win shares last year).
When both Powell and George share the court, the Clippers tout a 58.3 Net Rating, according to pbpstats. Translation: Los Angeles outscored opponents by 58.3 points per 100 possessions with George and Powell playing alongside each other. Small sample size, yes, but the stats are jarring.
Head coach Ty Lue has done more with less than any of his peers this season. With George missing essentially half the year and Kawhi Leonard never setting foot on the court, Lue’s squad still managed to find itself in the playoff hunt thanks to role players like Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris Sr. and Luke Kennard. There’s a case to be made for this being Lue’s best coaching performance.
Los Angeles is 3-1 against Minnesota this season, with the one loss coming without George.
Additionally, the Clippers are 20-20 ATS on the road this season and covered in four of their final five games.
Betting odds for other NBA play-in games
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Brooklyn Nets (6 p.m. CT Tuesday)
Early odds favor Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but don’t count out the Cavaliers’ young core of Evan Mobley and Darius Garland. Brooklyn is an 8.5-point favorite.
Charlotte Hornets vs. Atlanta Hawks (6 p.m. CT Wednesday)
Like elite guard play and points? Grab your popcorn for the Lamelo Ball-Trae Young showdown. The Hawks boast the second-highest offensive rating in the NBA this season, according to Basketball Reference. The Hornets aren’t far behind, coming in at ninth. Atlanta is a 4.5-point favorite.
San Antonio Spurs vs. New Orleans Pelicans (8:30 p.m. CT Wednesday)
C.J. McColum has been just what the Pelicans needed to compete for a spot in the playoffs. New Orleans is 13-10 since the All-Star break, and it appears McCollum and Brandon Ingram have meshed well. New Orleans is a 5-point favorite.