Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers
When and Where: Wednesday, Nov. 7, Staples Center, Los Angeles, Calif., 10:35 p.m. EST.
With more subplots than soap operas between the teams, Jimmy Butler is unsure if he is going to play Wednesday night when the Minnesota Timberwolves continue their road trip with a second game in three nights in Los Angeles, this time against a Lakers squad still trying to get its act together with LeBron James.
Butler, who demanded to be dealt in the preseason after deciding he could not co-exist with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, has played eight of Minnesota’s 11 games and is listed as day-to-day with “general soreness.”
The Lakers are playing better after an 0-4 start, but chemistry issues remain as James adjusts to playing with his new team while the pressure under third-year coach Luke Walton continues to build with the increased expectations that came with landing the future Hall of Famer.
Butler leaves status up in the air after loss to Clips
While Los Angeles is rumored to be one of Butler’s potential landing spots via trade, it is believed the Clippers and not the Lakers are the frontrunners for his services given they have the cap flexibility to offer two max deals in free agency.
After Minnesota’s 120-109 defeat to the other tenant of Staples Center, Butler dismissed the swirling trade rumors while also justifying his decision to pick spots to rest while dealing with his general soreness.
“I play basketball, I play to win … That’s my job. I’m not worried about nothing, none of that,” Butler told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “You continue to ask those questions, but it’s not going to change the way I go about the game, not going to change the way I interact with guys in this locker room.”
For the most part, the stats back up Butler’s words as he has scored 20 or more points in all but one game. While he finished with 20 versus the Clippers, Butler scored 16 of them in the fourth quarter when the Timberwolves were unable to mount a serious charge.
He also had 32 points, one off his season high, while hitting 6 of 7 from 3-point range in a 124-120 win over the Lakers on Oct. 29. Butler has averaged 28.4 points on 59.8 percent shooting in his last five road games versus Los Angeles and helped Minnesota sweep the two games there last season.
Jimmy Butler wins it for the Wolves! 💥
He dropped 32 PTS, 6 REB, 4 AST, & 2 BLK as the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the LA Lakers 124-120 🐺 pic.twitter.com/Py4IuVfZut
— NBA UK (@NBAUK) October 30, 2018
Towns had 20 and 12 rebounds against the Clippers, but Wiggins endured an off-night as he finished with 13 points on 4-of-16 shooting. Minnesota is 0-6 on the road, giving up 118.5 points per game while opponents are shooting 47.8 percent and hitting 12.2 3-pointers per game.
After sitting out against Portland with a sore ankle, Derrick Rose bounced back with 21 points and four assists as his resurgence continued. The veteran point guard is averaging 17.4 points while compiling a 2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Towns is 10 rebounds shy of joining Dwight Howard as the only NBA players to amass 5,000 points and 3,000 rebounds before their 23rd birthday.
Lakers still inconsistent after Magic-Walton meeting
Los Angeles (4-6) split its two games after Walton met with team president Magic Johnson, who reportedly cursed and shouted at his coach. Johnson later said Walton would be coach “unless something drastic happened,” but the wild fluctuations on a game-to-game basis continued.
The Lakers fell behind by 31 points in the first quarter of their 121-107 loss at home to the Toronto Raptors — who played without Kawhi Leonard — on Sunday. Los Angeles was outscored by Serge Ibaka alone 20-17 in the opening 12 minutes and trailed 42-17 after a quarter as Toronto shot 50 percent and scored 70 points in the paint.
LeBron on the Lakers loss to the Raptors: pic.twitter.com/3YoKewfgfj
— FootBasket.com (@FootBasketcom) November 5, 2018
Interior defense has been an issue throughout the young season for the Lakers, whose 59.0 points per game allowed in the paint is the worst average in the NBA. Los Angeles is also 27th in scoring defense, yielding 120.0 points per game.
To address some of those issues, the Lakers signed veteran center Tyson Chandler, who was waived by the Phoenix Suns on Sunday. The 36-year-old Chandler averaged 3.7 points and 5.6 rebounds in seven games off the bench, but he showed plenty of worth as a starter last season, averaging 9.1 rebounds in 25 minutes per game.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 6, 2018
James has shown few problems adjusting to Los Angeles, with his season averages of 26.8 points, 7.7 assists and 7.6 rebounds while shooting 50.3 percent overall and 28.8 percent from 3-point range. While the averages are only slightly off, James’ shooting percentages have taken an early hit compared to last season, which were 54.2 and 36.7, respectively.
The issue is not offense for the Lakers, who are third in the league in shooting at 49.4 percent and scoring at 118.9 points per game. Rajon Rondo continues to be the biggest surprise contributor in terms of scoring, averaging 11.9 points on 56.3 percent shooting, including 53.3 percent from long range, to go with his 6.6 assists per contest.
The Lakers are:
- 1-4 ATS in their last five home games.
- 0-4 ATS in their last four home games vs. teams with a sub-.500 road record.
- 1-4 ATS in their last five after scoring over 100 points in the previous game.
- The over is 13-3 in their last 16 games vs. sub-.500 teams.
- The over is 9-3 in their last 12 games following a double-digit home loss.
- The over is 4-1-1 in their last six games after a straight up loss.
The Timberwolves are:
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven games vs. Pacific Division teams.
- 4-1 ATS in their last five games vs. the Lakers.
- The over is 10-3 in their last 13 games vs. sub-.500 teams.
- The over is 13-6 in their last 19 games vs. Pacific Division teams.
- The over is 10-3 in their last 13 games vs. the Lakers.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
With it appearing likely Butler will play, the six-point line was surprisingly high considering Minnesota was favored by 1.5 points at home last month. Butler makes the Timberwolves are a more competitive team, and their recent track record against the Lakers — last month’s win was their fifth straight in the series — means they should at least cover if not win outright.
Prediction: Pick: Timberwolves +6
Full-Game Total Pick
The teams cleared a 240-point over in the first game, and while Chandler gives the Lakers some rim protection, it is unsure how many minutes he will play if it all, and Towns is still good for about 20 and 12 regardless of who matches up against him in the paint. The X-factor is Wiggins, who missed last month’s contest and has not shot over 40 percent in his last three games.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 239 points
Full-Game Prop Bet
While the Timberwolves have yet to score more than 109 points on this road swing, there is confidence in this pick given Minnesota scored 124 points against the Lakers without Wiggins, and Los Angeles is still fragile defensively even with the addition of Chandler.
After a choppy performance in the loss to the Clippers, Butler will likely hunt his shot early and set the tone for Minnesota on offense to hit this number.
Prediction: Pick: Timberwolves OVER 116.5 points
Half-Time Side Pick
Though the Timberwolves have yet to lead at halftime on the road this season, the Lakers have not been much better at home — they have trailed on three occasions and led by one in a fourth of their five home games. Minnesota’s road form does not promote confidence in taking the money line, but Los Angeles’ porous defense does allow enough faith to grab the Timberwolves and the points.
Prediction: Pick: Timberwolves +3.5
Half-Time Total Bet
The teams reached 130 points last month in Minnesota, and three of the Lakers’ five home games have cleared 123. This one is more dependent on the Timberwolves, who have not gotten over 122 in their three games on this road swing, but Los Angeles’ soft defense gives the teams a fighting chance to clear 123.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 123 points
Half-Time Prop Prediction
The Lakers have not gotten off to good starts at home this season, scoring more than 28 points just once in five games at Staples Center. Though they did score 36 in Minnesota last month, the expectation is Butler’s aggressiveness will get the Timberwolves off to a fast start and create a positive cycle that extends to the defense.
Prediction: Pick: Lakers UNDER 31.5 points 1st Quarter