The Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves meet for the first time on Monday night. Los Angeles and Minnesota have both started the season with a rough 2-4 record. Both teams were expected to compete for a playoff spot this season. While it is too soon to say they are out of it, their start to the season could have been better.
Los Angeles finished last season with a 35-47 record. That put them in eleventh place in the Western Conference. Many people expected the Lakers to continue to ride the development of their prospects, but instead they went out and got Lebron James in free agency. Los Angeles also picked up a lot of depth players to set up for a solid season run.
The Timberwolves went 47-35 last season, which put them in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Minnesota got matched up against the Houston Rockets, who ended up winning the series in five games. The Timberwolves have been in and out of the news recently, with a lot of drama between players, including star player Jimmy Butler reportedly wanting out.
Both the Lakers and the Timberwolves have had disappointing starts. Either team could take one step closer to turning the weak start around with a win on Monday night. I expect both teams to put up competitive performances.
Last Season’s Matchups
Los Angeles and Minnesota met up four times last season. The first game between these two teams was in Los Angeles. Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson each dropped 23 points. Kyle Kuzma scored 31 points, but it was not enough. The Timberwolves took the win by a score of 121-104.
The second game of the season series shifted to Minnesota. Butler had 28 points and Andrew Wiggins scored 21 in route to a win. The Timberwolves shot at around 50 percent. Minnesota took down the Lakers 114-96.
The third game of the series was held in Minnesota again and it was the closest game of the series. Julius Randle had 23 points for the Lakers. Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Jeff League combined for 72 points. The Timberwolves ended up winning 119-111.
The final game of the series moved back to Los Angeles. The Lakers top scorers were Julius Randle and Josh Hart with 20 points. Overall as a team though, Los Angeles shot below 40 percent from the field. The starting lineup for the Timberwolves dropped 90 points. Minnesota won 113-96.
The Timberwolves swept Los Angeles 4-0 in last season’s series. With the Lakers new lineup, I believe they can put up much more of a fight on Monday night. Los Angeles will be looking to get closer to even with their record and get revenge on Minnesota on Monday night.
Offensive Rating vs Defensive Rating
The Lakers have pulled off an impressive stat, especially because they have a losing record. Even though Los Angeles sits at 2-4, the Lakers are averaging more points scored per game than points allowed per game. Los Angeles has scored 122.3 points per game, while allowing 122.0 points per game. This is impressive because most teams with losing records are allowing more points than they are scoring.
Los Angeles also gets a key part of their offense back on Monday night. The Lakers should be getting Brandon Ingram back from suspension. Ingram played in the first two games before getting suspended over an altercation against Houston. Ingram will likely move back into the starting lineup, which means Kyle Kuzma can come in off the bench.
Minnesota’s offense has not been able to score more points than they’ve allowed. The Timberwolves are averaging 112.7 points per game. Minnesota is allowing opponents to score an average of 117.2 points per game.
The Lakers have the more efficient offense, while the Timberwolves have the better defense. I believe that Los Angeles’ defense got better with Ingram’s size back in the lineup. He will also create some mismatches on the offense as well.
The Lakers have won two of their last three games. Los Angeles was able to knock off the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets in back to back games, but then fell to the San Antonio Spurs in a close matchup. Los Angeles got Rajon Rondo back in the lineup last game and with Brandon Ingram coming back this game, their depth should be really strong.
Minnesota is currently on a two-game losing streak. The Timberwolves got stomped at home by the Milwaukee Bucks in their last game. Minnesota could be without Andrew Wiggins for this game, which would sting. Wiggins is third in scoring in the lineup and plays a solid defensive role on the wing.
I believe that as the Lakers get their full lineup back they will begin to pick up steam. Los Angeles has struggled to get it going early, but they had some momentum before losing to the Spurs a couple nights ago. With all the news coming out of Minnesota, the Timberwolves organization seems pretty dysfunctional at the moment. I believe the Lakers can take advantage of that.
BetOnline has Los Angeles listed as 2 point road favorites. I believe that this game should be about even. Both teams need a win to try and fuel the team. I think the Lakers are more likely to do so because of their recent play. The return of Ingram should help fuel the offense as well. I am going with the Lakers to pull off the win on the road.