The eighth seed Timberwolves head to Los Angeles to take on the seventh seed Lakers in the first of three Western Conference play-in games. The game is expected to tip-off at 10:00 PM ET, Tuesday, April 11th, 2023.
Despite both teams fighting to secure one of two remaining Western Conference playoff positions, the Lakers head into this game comfortable 6.5 point favorites.
If the Lakers win this game, they will secure a spot in the first-round series against the No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies, which would begin with a game on the road. However, if they lose, they will have to play again at home on Friday against the winner of the play-in game between the No. 9 Pelicans and No. 10 Thunder to earn the No. 8 seed and a first-round matchup with the No. 1 Denver Nuggets.
The Lakers finished the season strong, winning nine of their final 11 games, including a decisive 123-111 win in Minnesota on March 31st. Despite this, the Timberwolves won the regular season series 2-1. The Timberwolves moved up to the No. 8 spot by winning seven of their last 10 games, including a 113-108 victory over the Pelicans in their most recent game.
However, the Pelicans game could have a negative impact on the Timberwolves. Center Rudy Gobert was sent home by the organization for punching teammate Kyle Anderson during an argument by the team bench, and forward Jaden McDaniels fractured his right hand when he punched a wall on his way to the locker room at halftime.
Regardless, the T-Wolves present a challenge with players like Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards who can both score big and they have the experience of point guard Mike Conley and his multiple playoff games.
The Lakers are expected to be fully healthy for the game, with James having played the final eight games of the season after missing a month (torn tendon in his right foot), Anthony Davis having played the final 12 games after missing 20 games earlier in the season (right foot injury), and D’Angelo Russell having played the final three games after missing time (left foot soreness). Mo Bamba is available after missing a month (high ankle sprain), and Dennis Schroder is expected to return by Tuesday after missing the last two games (neck soreness).
ODDS AND PREDICTIONS
Based on the stats, this game between the Timberwolves and Lakers could be a close one. The Timberwolves average 115.4 points per game, which is just 2.5 points fewer than the 117.9 points per game that the Lakers give up. When the Timberwolves score more than the Lakers give up, they have a strong record of 16-7-1 against the spread and 15-9 overall.
However, LAL have a good record of 17-10 against the spread and 17-10 overall when they give up fewer than 115.4 points. They average 117.0 points per game, just 1.5 more points than the 115.5 points per game than the Timberwolves give up to opponents. When the Lakers score more than 115.5 points, they have a strong record of 24-8-1 against the spread and 24-9 overall.
Both teams have a negative point differential on the season, with the Timberwolves at -10 total points and the Lakers at -58 total points. With the potential for a close game, betting on the Timberwolves to cover the spread when they score more than 117.9 points could be a smart bet. However, if the Lakers can keep the Timberwolves under 115.4 points, betting on the Lakers to cover the spread could also be a good choice.
Considering all these factors, the Timberwolves ability to defend will not compensate for their inability to score the points needed to take down this Lakers offense and therefore the data suggests that the Lakers will cover the spread. However, it’s important to keep in mind that sports betting always involves a degree of risk, and there’s no guarantee that this Timberwolves lineup will not bounce back stronger come the play-ins, nor that the Lakers stars will perform to their usual standards. As always, it’s essential to do your research and make an informed decision based on the available data.
Spread: Lakers -6.5
Moneyline: Lakers -250, Timberwolves +210
Pick: Lakers -6.5
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