Minnesota Timberwolves vs Los Angeles Lakers: Predictions, Odds and Head-to-Head

How to Watch

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

When: Thursday, January 24th at 10:30 PM EST

How (TV/Radio): TNT, Spectrum Sportsnet | 830 WCCO, 710 AM ESPN / 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES

Minnesota Timberwolves (Away)

Head Coach: Ryan Saunders interim {All-Time 4-3 | MIN}

A recent run by the Timberwolves has helped the to climb back up the Western Conference standings. With a record of 22-24, the Timberwolves are just two games back of ninth in the West and a hair out of the playoff hunt.

The Timberwolves take on the Lakers in the middle of a three-game road trip, before coming home to Minneapolis at the end of the weekend. The Timberwolves are 2-1 against the Lakers so far this season and with the standings as tight as they are in the Western Conference, having the tiebreaker over Los Angeles will be key come the end of the season.

The Lakers are missing a number of key pieces and the Timberwolves have been doing a great job as of late to take advantage of teams where they are weak. While they’ve not had many impressive wins, save for one over the Thunder, the Wolves have been able to take care of business against teams that are lesser to their talent pool. A pool that the Lakers in their current form are certainly part of.

Los Angeles Lakers (Home)

Head Coach: Luke Walton {All-Time 86-126 | LAL}

The Lakers have been struggling as of late due to a string of mid-season injuries. With the loss of LeBron James and Lonzo Ball compounded on the still out Rajon Rondo, the Lakers are starved for playmaking. With a record of 25-23, the Lakers are out of the playoff picture and will want to reel off some victories so that they don’t face an uphill climb post All-Star Break.

The Lakers have been dropping games left and right as of late, going 4-6 in their last ten matches. Losses to the Thunder, Warriors, and Rockets are expected. But to drop games against the Kings, Cavaliers, and Knicks is unacceptable for a team vying for the playoffs.

LeBron James may be out, but the Lakers were thought to be a team that could sustain a playoff push without him. Clearly that is not the case and they will want him back as soon as possible. In the meantime, the Lakers will have to look to their bench for some new playmaking solutions.

What’s At Stake?

The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers meet again in a Western Conference matchup. In 113 matches, the Lakers lead the all-time series over the Timberwolves 78-35.

A win for the Wolves would bring them within a game of .500 and just 1.5 games back of the ninth spot.

A win for the Lakers would stave off the oncoming Kings and Timberwolves and help them within half a game of the eighth place Utah Jazz.

Questions to answer

Can the Wolves overcome their injuries?

Who will lead the Lakers?

We are going to compare the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

The Timberwolves are 12th in Net Rating

Since the Jimmy Butler trade, the Timberwolves are twelfth in offensive rating and eleventh in defensive rating. Impressive numbers for a team that went through so many mid-season changes and it certainly suggests that they should be able to compete for the last playoff spots in the Western Conference.

Unfortunately for the Wolves, they are struggling with a ton of injuries at the moment. Robert Covington and Tyus Jones are two players that are positive plus-minus players, but are injured with no timetable for return. On top of those two, both Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose have been in and out of the lineup.

The outlook for the Wolves schedule isn’t positive either. Seven of their next sixteen games will be against playoff teams, but with the conference so close in the standings ti will be difficult for the Wolves to afford to lose more than a quarter of this coming stretch. Towns and Wiggins will have to step up if they want to overcome the inconsistency of the teams health.

The Lakers can’t initiate their offence

The loss of LeBron James would hurt even the strongest team. But with Lonzo Ball they were still able to initiate their running game. Now that Ball is out and Rondo is far from returning, there’s a massive question mark over who will run the Lakers’ offence.

First shot goes to second year guard Josh Hart. Usually deployed at shooting guard, he will take on point guard duties for the Lakers. While not a natural distributor, the Lakers will hope that he will have the maturity to reign in his shooting in order to benefit the team as a while. However on the defensive side, he is an upgrade to Lonzo Ball at point guard.

There are rumblings that LeBron James has been mentoring Ingram and Kuzma in how to initiate the offence on their own. Currently the Lakers end up with a lot of isolation possessions, so for James to mentor the teams two young iso options is a massive benefit. Neither will be carrying the ball up court like they’re Lamar Odom, but in the half court they will be valuable when a one-on-one bucket is needed.

Minnesota Timberwolves Roster Notes

F Robert Covington – Out (Ankle) – Covington said he does not have a timetable for a return to action, according to Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

G Tyus Jones – Out (Ankle) – Jones was ruled OUT for Tuesday’s (Jan 22) game against the Suns.

Los Angeles Lakers Roster Notes

G Lonzo Ball – Out (Left Ankle) – Ball is expected to miss the next four-to-six weeks with a Grade 3 left ankle sprain.

F LeBron James – Day To Day (Groin Strain) – The Lakers announced F LeBron James will not travel with the team on their next two-game road trip.

G Rajon Rondo – Out (Right Finger Sprain) – The Lakers announced that Rondo has been cleared to return to full practice. The hope is that he’s able to return by the end of the month or in early February.

Head-to-Head: Jeff Teague vs Josh Hart

Josh Hart

Shooting Guard | 6-5, 215lb (196cm, 97kg) | Villanova | Exp. 2 Years

9.1 PPG | 1.5 APG | 4.1 RPG | 1.1 SPG | 0.6 BPG | 1.0 TOV | .413 FG% | .350 3P%

Jeff Teague

Point Guard | 6-2, 195lb (188cm, 88kg) | Wake Forest | Exp. 10 Years

11.5 PPG | 8.1 APG | 2.4 RPG | 1.1 SPG | 0.4 BPG | 2.3 TOV | .406 FG% | .341 3P%

It will be a battle of the point guards as two injury ravaged teams look for solutions from their role players. Josh Hart will lead the line for the Lakers as they take on former All-Star Jeff Teague and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Both will have an increased workload in this match and will be key contributors should they be looking for their respective teams success.

With LeBron James and Lonzo Ball out, the Lakers are looking for another playmaker. Lance Stephenson can be inconsistent and Kyle Kuzma is no Lamar Odom, so the task falls to Josh Hart. He started at point against the Lakers and was passive overall, registering just two shot attempts and one assist. Usually tasked with defensive duties and hitting open threes, Hart will have to expand his game if the Lakers don’t want to fall out of the playoff race.

Jeff Teague is a curious point guard. A good decision maker with a streaky shot, he can sometimes keep you in games with his attacking prowess or shoot you out of them with his inconsistent range. Regardless of criticism Teague is a solid playmaker. With the amount of injuries the Wolves have, the Wolves need to depend on his creation in order to spread production across the Wolves line up.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers Predictions and Odds

The odds makers have the Minnesota Timberwolves favoured over the Los Angeles Lakers by 1.5, with an over/under of 110.