With 82 games now officially in the books, the Lakers remain in search of one more win if they hope to make some noise in the postseason.
Following their 128-117 victory over the Jazz on Sunday, the team secured both the 7th seed and homecourt for their play-in matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night. The winner of that game will move on to face the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round.
The Timberwolves took care of business against the Pelicans to settle into the 8th spot but their win didn't come without some hoopla. During the contest, Rudy Gobert threw a punch at teammate Kyle Anderson, after a verbal spat between the two transpired during a timeout. Then in a separate incident, the team’s defensive Swiss Army Knife, Jaden McDaniels, fractured his hand after punching a wall while heading into the locker room.
In short, woof.
With McDaniels likely missing an extended period of time, and the statuses of Gobert and Anderson still up in the air, there remains some uncertainty in what version of the Timberwolves the Lakers will actually face.
The teams do have experience with one and other as they’ve played each other three times this season with Minnesota winning the series 2-1. However, it’s worth pointing out how different both teams now are heading into Tuesday.
For one, these were the starting lineups the Lakers trotted out in the first two matchups:
Not only did the Lakers not have both of LeBron James and Anthony Davis available in their earlier contests against Minnesota, but starters like Patrick Beverley and Damian Jones aren't even still on the team.
The Timberwolves have also gone through a makeover since then, namely in the backcourt, as they swapped out now Laker D’Angelo Russell in favor of Mike Conley.
In their most recent contest which featured both team’s new looks, the Lakers prevailed 123-111 following a second half comeback.
To help get a better vantage point of the Timberwolves, I spoke to resident Wolves’ observer and hoops aficionado, Anthony Williams (aka @anpherknee) about the three things Lakers’ fans should look for in the opposition ahead of the game.
The Timberwolves go as their veterans go
When the Timberwolves pushed in all their chips for Gobert this past offseason, they did so with their sights clearly on the short-term. Because of this, their roster construction has skewed more towards veterans outside of the likes of Anthony Edwards and others.
How the team’s elder statesmen perform against the Lakers may determine the result according to Williams.
“For all the individual brilliance we see on a near nightly basis from Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves’ successes game to game largely hinge on what version of Kyle Anderson and Taurean Prince shows up on the floor that night.”
“Minnesota is 30-23 with Taurean Prince in the lineup on the season, and his extended absence earlier in the year was a major reason as to why they were so up and down. Kyle Anderson, who has been the connective tissue for the Timberwolves on both sides of the ball, performs much better in wins. He is shooting nearly seven percent better from the 3-point line than in losses, and averaging nearly an assist and a steal more per contest.”
It’s worth noting that Prince and Anderson have individually burned the Lakers in the team’s previous matchups. Specifically due to the attention the likes of Edwards and Towns garner on the floor. The veteran duo serve as both beneficiaries of their young teammates’ gravity, but also, are important release valves through their savviness.
“In addition to being the proverbial adults in the room, the tactical value in both Anderson and Prince’s presence is their role as the team’s go-to secondary creators in support of Edwards and Towns, who have shown to be less than steady decision makers.”
“Prince and Anderson’s ability to catch and shoot as well as attack closeouts will likely be a deciding factor that can swing the contest in either team’s favor. Although they are both capable decision makers and finishers, they also both teeter on the line of volatility in these situations. Prince sometimes is overzealous in his forays to the basket, and Anderson’s inconsistent finishing around the rim was perfectly encapsulated in his recent woeful over the backboard attempt at a game-winner.”
Anthony Davis vs. Karl-Anthony Towns
While the likes of James and Edwards will undoubtedly leave their fingerprints on Tuesday’s contest, the victor of the front-court battle between Davis and Towns may decide the winner.
Through their immense talents both players have helped lead a generation of multifaceted bigs in their own ways. That said, as much as they have both dazzled, they have also polarized through their varying degrees of inconsistency.
“For Davis, while he has largely proven himself a more than capable playoff performer with the jewelry as proof (the bubble ring is still a ring - I don’t want to HEAR IT), there are still lingering questions about his aggression and ‘want to’ from game to game,” Williams said.
“In Towns’ case, his critics have questioned his ability to lead and win on the biggest stages. His best chance to prove doubters wrong came in his team’s play-in game last year where he was unable to stay on the floor due to foul trouble. This was a feat he repeated in the team’s pivotal Game 3 loss to the Grizzlies, a contest in which the Timberwolves lost multiple 20 point leads.”
Towns’ foul-trouble also played a role in the Lakers’ recent second-half comeback win over the Timberwolves.
While Davis’ inconsistency has stemmed more from a lack of aggression, Towns’ issues have been rooted more in his overexertion. The big that can best adjust both schematically and mentally to these reoccurring variables may be the deciding factor according to Williams.
“The blueprint to try and disengage both big men is relatively similar, particularly on the offensive end — send a lot of attention their way and congest the areas in which they have to operate. Davis often becomes more deferential in these scenarios, and Towns becomes overly aggressive, leading to the aforementioned foul trouble.”
The clutch battle
Like in most high-pressure games, the team that best executes their gameplan down the stretch typically is the one who prevails.
In the case of the Lakers and Timberwolves, crunch time is an area where both teams have had many chances to prove their mettle but have each yielded mixed results.
As pointed out by Williams, the Lakers and Timberwolves both finished the season in the top 10 in “clutch” (when the scoring margin is within 5 points with five or fewer minutes remaining) games played.
In terms of the raw numbers, Minnesota looks to have an edge over Los Angeles when it comes to how each have fared in these settings. However, their results may be a bit misleading according to Williams.
“Even though the Timberwolves finished second in the league in clutch wins (28), they are not the fearsome opponent in late game situations as their rank suggests. Despite the large number of wins, the team was only 15th in clutch net rating and posted a punchless offensive rating of just 103.9, which was 25th in the NBA.”
An Achilles heel of the team’s struggles late has been due to their inability to take care of the ball. One of Timberwolves’ biggest culprits in this has come courtesy of their blossoming 21-year-old star.
“The Timberwolves being 26th when it comes to TOV% in the clutch has been fueled by the continued growing pains of Edwards, who is 3rd in the league in clutch time turnovers, with 18 on the season to just 11 assists.”
Despite their woeful 2-10 start that saw the team routinely crumble in the clutch, the Lakers have actually performed better in late-game scenarios than might be assumed.
As Williams points out, the Lakers have the 3rd best clutch offensive rating and the lowest clutch TOV% in the league at 5.4% Both important areas the team can hang their hat on in terms of this upcoming matchup and potentially beyond.
“Although the Timberwolves have had their successes in the win column in clutch situations, they will give their opponents plenty of opportunities to both stay in, and take control of a game in the final moments. And the Lakers appear well-suited to be able to capitalize should the opportunity arise.”
Stats and injury notes
- Beyond the Timberwolves already being without McDaniels and Gobert, the team will also not have the services of breakout big man, Naz Reid on Tuesday. Reid fractured his wrist in a game against the Suns back in March and is out indefinitely.
- Dennis Schröder’s status remains up in the air as the point-guard missed his second consecutive game on Sunday. After being ruled out with “extreme neck soreness” against the Suns, Schröder remained out in the team’s final regular season game with “right Achilles soreness.”
- Foul trouble: Minnesota has ranked 28th in opponent free-throw rate since the trade deadline. This could prove costly as the Lakers have had the 3rd highest free-throw rate in the league during that span according to Cleaning the Glass.
- Watch out for Moreyball: Since Conley’s arrival, the Timberwolves have the 4th highest shot frequency at the rim (36.2%) and are shooting 39.1% from behind the arc (4th best).
- Crash the glass: Despite a jumbo front court, the Timberwolves are allowing the 17th highest offensive-rebound rate to the opposition since their roster makeover. The Lakers have excelled in second chance opportunities with the 9th best offensive-rebound rate and 9th most putbacks per 100 missed shots in that same span.
The Lakers and Timberwolves will tip off at 7:00 p.m. PT. The game will be televised nationally on TNT.
The Lakers have defeated the Timberwolves, 108-102, in overtime.What's the spread on Wolves Lakers? ›
|Fubo||Hulu + Live TV|
LeBron James led the Lakers to a comeback play-in win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. LeBron James had a big night as he carried the Los Angeles Lakers through to the NBA playoffs with a 108-102 overtime win against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Play-In.How many times Lakers champion? ›
|Los Angeles Lakers|
|Affiliation(s)||South Bay Lakers|
|Championships||17 (1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010, 2020)|
|Conference titles||19 (1972, 1973, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2020)|
Points spread betting: outcomes
If bettors choose correctly and win, a sportsbook will pay the bettor in full amount based on the “price” of the wager, which is most commonly -110. That means a bet for $110 would win $100, or $11 would win $10, and so on.
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A point spread is a bet on the margin of victory in a game. The stronger team or player will be favored by a certain number of points, depending on the perceived gap in ability between the two teams. A minus sign (-) means that team is the favorite. A plus sign (+) means that team is the underdog.How much is a NBA League Pass? ›
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The odds indicate how many times your stake will be multiplied in your total payout. For example: A $100 bet at 1.50 odds will pay out $150 ($50 profit, plus your $100 stake).Is it better to bet the spread or win? ›
Betting on favourites against the spread results in better payouts than when taking the moneyline. With underdogs, covering the spread requires winning the contest or losing by a less than the point spread.What happens if you bet $100 on a money line? ›
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Basics of Underdog Odds
The underdog is always the side of the bet with the biggest, most attractive odds. If you win a bet on an underdog, you will always win more money than if you had bet the same amount on the favorite. The bigger the underdog, the bigger the potential payout if you win.
If you bet on them to win, they must beat the opposing team by at least 7.5 points. On the opposite side of the wager, the New England Patriots are the underdog to win. To beat the spread, they must close the point gap to within 7.5 points or win outright.How do you know who is favored to win? ›
If there is a minus sign next to a team's spread, that suggests that they are favored and have to win by or cover that amount. If there is a positive sign, that tells you that they are the underdog and they are getting points.How do I win if the spread is? ›
Point spreads involve a winning margin. If you bet on a favorite, they need to win by more than the assigned spread. For example, if a spread is (-7.5) points, your team needs to win by eight or more. If you bet on an underdog, they can lose by fewer than the assigned spread or win outright for you to win.
NBA League Pass is Just $14.99 for the Rest of Regular Season. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. If you're outside of the local area to watch your favorite NBA team, you're in luck. NBA League Pass has discounted its streaming service for the rest of the regular season.Is League Pass worth it? ›
Should I get NBA LEAGUE PASS? If you want access to all out-of-market NBA games for the 2022–2023 season, this is your next subscription. If you're an avid NBA fan and you'll use NBA LEAGUE PASS for at least half of the games, the regular NBA LEAGUE PASS subscription is probably going to be perfect for you.How much does it cost to buy the NBA? ›
Even a worldwide pandemic, which saw NBA arenas closed around the country, couldn't slow down the ever-growing organization that is the NBA. Every franchise in the league is worth at least $1 billion, and the top three franchises are worth over $6 billion, which continues to rise yearly.How to get a free NBA pass? ›
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|Owner||National Basketball Association (operated by Warner Bros. Discovery Sports)|
|Sister channels||MLB Network Motor Trend AT&T SportsNet|
|Launched||November 2, 1999|
What does NBA League Pass include? Access live games, replays and highlights from every game, custom streams with access to home and away coverage, and select classic games. For more details, please visit our League Pass Subscription Page.Can you watch NBA for free? ›
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The last released installment to date was 2018's NBA Live 19. As of 2022, the series has been in an indefinite hiatus, and after the cancellations of NBA Live 20 and NBA Live 21, there has not been any official confirmation on whether or not more games would be developed.Did the Lakers win the championship in Minneapolis? ›
In Minneapolis, they won 3 NBA Titles as the Minneapolis Lakers, in 1952-1954. In Los Angeles, they won 12 NBA Titles as the Los Angeles Lakers, in 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987-1988, 2000-2002, 2009-2010 and 2020.Have the Timberwolves ever won the NBA? ›
The Minnesota Timberwolves have never won a NBA Finals.Who did Lakers beat for championship? ›
In this best-of-seven playoff series, the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat, 4–2, winning their first NBA championship in ten years. It was the franchise's 17th title overall, tying the Boston Celtics for the most in league history.Did the Timberwolves win any NBA championships? ›
|Division titles||1 (2004)|
|Retired numbers||1 (2)|
Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the No. 1 spot on the NBA's all-time regular-season scoring list (38,387 points) on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.
Lakers fans reflect on Lebron James capturing NBA's career scoring record. LeBron James, who was anointed “The Chosen One” on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 17-year-old high school junior, fulfilled that prophecy by breaking the NBA scoring record with his 38,388th point during season 20 of his illustrious career ...Who owns the Lakers now? ›
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The Indiana Pacers, the New Orleans Pelicans, the Brooklyn Nets, the Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Utah Jazz, the Charlotte Hornets, the Denver Nuggets, the Phoenix Suns, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Minnesota Timberwolves have never won an NBA championship despite all making ...What is the oldest NBA team to never win a championship? ›
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The Minnesota Timberwolves have a 1% chance of winning the NBA Finals.What is the Timberwolves highest scoring game? ›
The Minnesota Timberwolves set a franchise record for most points in a game on Sunday. The Timberwolves achieved the feat in a 150-126 win over the Chicago Bulls at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.