The Lakers are finally healthy and playing well. The T-Wolves are a different story as the wheels have seemingly fallen off! Minnesota’s last game of the season was an embarrassing time for this team. Injuries and possible suspension’s loom for a team that has fallen at the exact wring time of the season. Minnesota will also need to overcome a red-hot Lakers team.
The Lakers have had a roller-coaster season this year, plagued with injuries and turmoil throughout the roster. Head coach Darvin Ham took over for Frank Vogel this offseason and has had an interesting first year leading them. Neither LeBron James nor Anthony Davis made it past 60 games this year; Russell Westbrook didn’t quite fit and was traded away before being bought out and signing with the Clippers. This isn’t even close to being their first play-in; L.A. missed playoffs last year but was in the play-in during the 2020-21 season where they beat Warriors 103-100 before being swept by Phoenix Suns 103-100.
For the Timberwolves, things could not have gone more awry in their final regular season game.
Star center Gobert and his teammate Kyle Anderson got into an argument during a timeout. Gobert swung at Anderson, punching him in the chest. As punishment, Minnesota sent Gobert home for his actions; forcing them to play out the remainder of a crucial second half without one of their best players.
Minnesota still managed to defeat the Pelicans and earn itself the No. 8 seed in the West, but it did so at the cost of some key pieces.
On Monday night, it is still unclear if the Timberwolves will suspend Gobert for their Play-In Game against the Lakers on Tuesday. That decision should be closely monitored going into Tuesday’s contest.
But wait – the story doesn’t end there.
Along with Gobert’s altercation, All-Defensive Team candidate Jaden McDaniels punched a wall heading into the locker room. Unfortunately, McDaniels broke his right hand during this encounter and will miss the remainder of the season.
Minnesota is facing more bad news as they are already without impactful reserve center Naz Reid due to a fractured wrist with just five games remaining in the season.
Will the Timberwolves be able to overcome James, Davis and company in order to earn the No. 7 seed in the Play-In Tournament?
Minnesota won two out of the three previous matchups with the Lakers. In the only game that James and Davis were healthy and playing, the Lakers won.
In their opening matchup, Anthony Edwards (29 points), Rudy Gobert (22) and Karl-Anthony Towns (21 points) combined for 72 points in a win that outlasted 28 points from James without Davis.
In their second meeting, Davis scored 38 points without James but the Towns-less Timberwolves still managed to come away with a victory as five players scored double figures.
In their most recent matchup, Los Angeles easily defeated Minnesota with 38 points and 17 rebounds from Davis, while Edwards struggled with 11 points on 4-for-16 shooting from the field.
Even if the Timberwolves were fully healthy with Gobert available and both McDaniels and Reid healthy, I still would take the Lakers. With Gobert’s status uncertain and McDaniels and Reid out, I don’t see how they can stop James and Davis from dominating this game.
Over two games against Minnesota this season, Davis averaged 38.0 points and 11.0 rebounds. James just wrapped up the regular season with one of his best performances – scoring 36 points, hauling in six rebounds, and dishing out six assists.
The Lakers are hitting their stride just in time.
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