The No. 8 Minnesota Timberwolves (42-40) will square off with the No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers (43-39) in the first game of the play-in tournament Tuesday night. The Lakers will host this one at Crypto.com Arena, with tipoff scheduled for 10:00 pm ET.
The winner of this game automatically moves into the No. 7 seed in the playoffs, taking on the Memphis Grizzlies. The loser will have to face the winner of the No. 9 New Orleans Pelicans and No. 10 Oklahoma City Thunder to try to move on.
The Lakers are the favorites playing at home. They are -275 to win, while the Timberwolves’ moneyline sits at +225. The spread features Minnesota as a 7-point underdog (-112), and the over/under for total points is 229.5 (-110).
T-Wolves Frustration Boils Over At The Wrong Time
The Minnesota Timberwolves won their finale 113-108 over the New Orleans Pelicans, giving them the edge as the No. 8 seed in the play-in tournament. Unfortunately, that was the only thing that went right in that game.
One major issue is that center Rudy Gobert punched teammate Kyle Anderson during a timeout. After a minor scuffle ensued, Gobert was removed for the rest of the game. Averaging 13.6 points and 11.8 rebounds per game this season, Gobert’s status for Tuesday’s contest is up in the air.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Jaden McDaniels (12.2 points, 3.9 rebounds) is now out for the playoffs after he punched a wall in frustration during the game and broke his hand.
Lakers Clicking At The Right Time
While the Timberwolves are in disarray, the Lakers are clicking at the right time. They have won eight of their last ten, and back-to-back games entering the play-in tournament. They will try to ride that momentum into a win over Minnesota Tuesday night.
Offensively, the Lakers finished the regular season ranked ninth in scoring, averaging 117 points per game. Over their last three contests, that number has escalated to 124.7 points per game.
Leading the offense is future Hall-of-Famer LeBron James. In 54 games, James is averaging 28.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 6.8 assists.
When healthy, Anthony Davis has also played at an elite level. In 55 games, he averages 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and two blocks per game.
The Lakers struggle a bit more at the defensive end. They rank 19th in scoring defense, allowing opponents an average of 116.6 points per game.
Take Los Angeles To Win And Cover
Tuesday’s play-in game comes down to two teams heading in entirely different directions. The Lakers have been on fire as of late, while the Timberwolves went into total meltdown in their final regular season game.
Even if Edwards and Towns go off, Minnesota will likely be shorthanded and probably won’t have enough firepower to keep up with Los Angeles.
Take the Lakers to win and cover the 7-point spread (-108) in this one.