The Minnesota Timberwolves pay visit to the King and the Los Angeles Lakers as two Western Conference teams collide in a Wednesday showdown at the Staples Center on 11/7/18.
The Wolves enter this game having lost three games in a row while the Lakers are coming off a loss to the Toronto Raptors. These teams have already met once this season with the Wolves coming out on top 124-120 in a closely fought contest in Minnesota.
The Wolves’ have opened the season a disappointing 4-7 thanks mainly to the drama surrounding superstar guard Jimmy Butler who requested for a trade before training camp even began. Minnesota hasn’t been able to find the right deal yet so they are still holding on to Jimmy Buckets. And while he has played like nothing is going on, the team is without doubt suffering on and off the court.
But a ray of sunshine for the Wolves this season is the fine play of veteran Derrick Rose. The former 2011 NBA MVP is having one of his best seasons in recent memory. In fact, the injury prone D-Rose is three games removed from scoring a career-high 50 points. Unfortunately, Rose played just five minutes in his next two games with ankle problems. He however came back with 21 points against the Clippers in the Wolves’ last games.
Rose is averaging 17.4 points and 4.6 assists per game this season and without doubt has inspired his younger teammates amidst the Butler dilemma. However, Minnesota’s young stars have to step up too as Karl Anthony Towns has only averaged 18.8 points this season and Andrew Wiggins just 16.8 points per outing.
Likewise, the Los Angeles Lakers are off to a rough start in the King James era. The purple and gold are a sluggish 4-6 this year despite having the best basketball player on the planet on their side. It’s obvious that the Lakers are still learning how to play with each other but they need to rack up wins very soon or else the honeymoon may be over soon with heads starting to roll.
LeBron James is certainly doing everything he can as he is stuffing the stats sheet. James leads the Lakers in the three major statistical categories at 26.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game. But he certainly cannot win games on his own as his younger teammates and veteran supporting cast must play consistently for Los Angeles to start winning games.
Sophomore Kyle Kuzma is the team’s surprise second leading scorer at 19.5 points per game but Brandon Ingram, who was touted for a possible breakout season is only scoring 15.5 points per game while last year’s #2 pick Lonzo Ball is only putting up 9.8 points and 4.3 dimes per contest. Similarly shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell Pope is off to a slow start with 5.6 points per game, 37.3% field goal shooting and 21.7% three point accuracy.
The Lakers lead the all-time series between these two teams at 77-34 but the Wolves swept the Lakers last season and won their first meeting of the 2018-19 campaign 124-120. The Wolves though are winless SU in six road games played so far this season while the Lakers’ are 2-3 SU in their first five games at the Staples Center this season.
It’s hard to read the Los Angeles Lakers this season as they have only been 2-3 SU as betting favorites but an even 2-2 SU when underdogs. But when you take a look at the Laker games this season, most games have been close and winnable for the Lakers except their last game against Toronto where they were blown out early.
The Lakers have stretches where they play like an elite team and then there are also portions in the game where they can’t seem to buy a basket or can’t seem to complete a play. Usually, the latter happens when the games are on the line and the Lakers end up losing close games.
The Wolves are 2-5 in their last seven games and have lost three in a row. Butler has three 20+ scoring games in the last five games with two DNP’s sandwiched after each of those games. He told media last Monday that he’s “unsure” of playing against the Lakers because he’s still “taking in how they lost” to the Clippers on Monday. When you have a player talking that way, that’s a distraction you want to get rid of.
Over at Los Angeles, frustration is mounting but between frustration and distraction, I’ll take the former. It’s easier to coach a frustrated team rather than to do the same to a distraction. Obviously, Towns and Wiggins are getting distracted, the reason why they are having poor starts to their seasons. I’ll take the Lakers and their home court advantage here. We’re picking the Los Angeles Lakers to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves on 11/7/18.
Both these teams have struggled against the spread this season with Minnesota going 4-7 ATS in their 11 games so far this year and Los Angeles 3-7 in their 10 games played this season. On the road, the Wolves are 1-5 ATS in six games this season while the Lakers are an equally bad 1-4 ATS in five games at the Staples Center this season. However, Los Angeles is 4-1 ATS in their last five games played on a Wednesday while the Wolves are 1-4 ATS in their last five games after an SU loss of at least double digits.
The first meeting between these two teams for the 2018-19 season ended with the Wolves winning by four points but without Jimmy Butler playing for the Minnesota in this contest, things could end up very differently. Butler scored 32 points in that game and delivered the big baskets that mattered. With him sitting out every other game since that victory, the Wolves have been at a loss. If Butler does end up missing this game, this is an easy cover for LeBron’s Lakers. But even if Butler plays, the Wolves are 1-5 ATS away from home. Prediction: Lakers -5
The over is 5-6 in Minnesota’s initial 11 games to start the 2018-19 NBA season while the total has gone over in half of the Lakers’ first 10 games played so far.The total has gone under in four out of the Wolves’ six road games played this year and the over is 2-2-1 in the Lakers’ first five home games of the current season.
The Lakers are one of the highest scoring teams in the league and they don’t like to play defense at all. But 237 may be too high for a game where Jimmy Butler may not play in. Minnesota has plenty of weapons left but may not be able to play catch up without Butler. Prediction: Under 237