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Game Preview #3: Wolves vs. Lakers

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Flying high after starting 2-0, the Wolves draw an AD-less Lakers.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

What a wild 24 hours. My WiFi went down. I provided my first regular season game recap (Now unofficially 2-0!). I found out there’s a new Dollar Tree in my hometown. Oh, wait... you’re not asking about me? Well, here’s what the Timberwolves endured:

  1. Embarked on their first road trip and away game versus a legit Western Conference playoff team.
  2. Survived an injury scare to backup center, Naz Reid.
  3. Survived (fingers crossed) an injury scare to their starting center and captain, Karl-Anthony Towns.
  4. Gutted out a tough win courtesy of a defensive play (!) despite a late rally by the opposing team.
  5. Jumped in a plane to fly from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles.

Their reward?

They draw the 2020 NBA champion, and home to the Laker of all-time LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers.


Game Info

Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (2-0) at Los Angeles Lakers (1-1)
When: 9:00 pm CST
TV: NBA TV & Fox Sports North (streaming on the Fox Sports Go app)
Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio


What To Watch For

  • Karl-Anthony Towns, if he plays, will likely be less than 100%. However, even that version of Towns is better than the majority of players, let alone big men, in the league. The Lakers are also load managing Anthony Davis tonight so that means we’ll see a steady dose of soon-to-be 36-year-old Marc Gasol, the 2020 6MOY 6’8” Montrezl Harrell, similarly sized Kyle Kuzma, and... um... Markieff Morris? The battle of the boards and paint will be an interesting storyline.
  • ^ That was what I originally wrote. But then this news broke:
  • This means Naz Reid will be the guy to watch tonight. I fully expect Hollywood Naz to thrive in his natural habitat, Hollywood. At the very least, he won’t have to try and wrangle Anthony Davis. I’m not expecting big things from him tonight, but if he can continue to show off his improved defense, it will go a long way for the Wolves.
  • Obviously LeBron James is always a legitimate threat to win any game despite the quality of teammates he has next to him. James was listed as probable heading into tonight’s game so he will likely have a huge usage percentage if he suits up. Who will draw the worst assignment on defense? I’m sure it will be a committee led by Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver, but James has a history of hunting out the most favorable mismatches through pick-and-rolls. No player, let alone team, can stop James from getting into the paint. Thus the Minnesota defense will need to be on an absolute string tonight to meet him at the rim while also making the correct rotations out to inevitably wide open shooters.
  • Perhaps there are more questions for the Lakers tonight than there are for the Timberwolves. Pertaining to the last point, will the supporting Laker cast be able to knock down the open looks they’ll get? Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is shooting 33.3% from perimeter (4.5 3PA). Schroder is at 37.5% (4.0 3PA). Morris and Kuzma are both a scalding hot 57.1% (3.5 3PA). If those percentages hold up, the Wolves will be in for a long night.
  • In the lone game that the Wolves faced the Lakers last season, LeBron and AD combined to score 82 points (Out of 142 lol). The latter had 50 of them. Who is going to make up those 110 points? There’s never been a more perfect opportunity for an MPE. The question is: Who will it be? Harrell is their 3rd leading scorer at 19.5 PPG. However my guess is Mr. Dennis Schroder. I’m not going to even link why I think he’s going to kill the Wolves tonight.
  • How will D’Angelo Russell fare against the team that drafted him? Well, people. Expect drama:

Injury Reports

Predictions

  • Karl-Anthony Towns channels the best European passing big to ever play the game, Vlade Divac (Jk, he’s probably 2nd behind Arvydas Sabonis), and shells out a career high 12 assists with single digit scoring. A true leader who is willing to sacrifice his health in a primetime matchup.
  • Pain. The absence of Towns means that the guards will have the neon green jerseys light on offense. Malik Beasley will finally explode on offense and just like his first game in a Wolves uniform against the better other LA team, he knocks down 6 treys in the 1st half. Couger (S/O jakesgraphs) strikes again.
  • Anthony Edwards chases down LeBron on a fastbreak dunk attempt. Mike Breen parachutes down from the catwalk of Staples Center with a microphone and yells “OH! BLOCK BY EDWARDS! OH WHAT A BLOCK!” While LeBron panders to the refs for a foul call, Goose does the fake crown celebration.
  • LeBron James nears a triple double at half time with his team down double digits, but only earns it in the 3rd quarter with his team down 18 points. He never checks back into the game.
  • Kostas Antetokounmpo plays 10 minutes in the 4th quarter.
  • Jordan McLaughlin finally suits up and crosses Dennis Schroder up so bad he starts screaming in German.
  • The Wolves confidently overwhelm the Lakers behind a 40-point night from D’Angelo Russell. Laker Nation tries to play it cool as they drop to 1-2, with a smatter of “We don’t even care about the regular season, lol we were load managing our best player, “lmaoaobobao how many ringzzz does Minnesota have?” cries.
  • My girlfriend, and noted Lakers fan, gets upset at me after I gloat in her face over the victory and says “Okay, I never laugh at you when the Timberwolves lose 50 games a season,” and I’m effectively owned.