Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves – NBA, February 16, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| February 16, 2021 5:32 am PDT

This is a real David versus Goliath match-up as the bottom of the Northwest Division takes on the top of the Pacific Division. The Lakers have fallen a couple of games behind the Jazz in the race for the Western Conference Championship, so they cannot afford any slip-ups tonight.

The Timberwolves are becoming the lone wolves as they become detached from the rest of the Western Conference pack. Therefore, having to face the high-flying Lakers is probably not what they wanted. However, nobody expects much of them, so they should look at this game as a free hit.

The Timberwolves will also be encouraged by their record against the Lakers as they have split the last six games with three wins apiece. They have also won the previous seven matches played in Minnesota. You have to go back to 2015 to find the last time that the Lakers won on the road against the Timberwolves.

The Timberwolves have been a second-half team against the Lakers as they have been behind more often than not at the interval but have gone on to prevail in many games in the second half.

Here are the betting for the match-up and my game analysis.

Lakers vs. Timberwolves Odds

Lakers (-7.5) -110
Timberwolves (+7.5) -110
Lakers To Win -303
Timberwolves To Win +260
Over 223.5 Points -110
Under 223.5 Points -110

The spread is predictably big, which is what you would find in a game between a top versus bottom match-up. However, given the Timberwolves’ impeccable record at home against the Lakers, do they offer value here?

Lakers Preview

The Laker’s seven-game win streak came to an end against the Nuggets last time out. You could say that the defeat had been coming as three of their previous four wins had come in overtime, and all of that added time must have taken its toll on them.

LA has been the best team on the road in the Western Conference this season, losing only three of their 15 matches. However, those three defeats came in their last five road trips, so perhaps now isn’t the perfect time for the Timberwolves to be playing against them.

Here are the latest betting trends for Los Angeles:

  • The Lakers have only won one of their previous five matches against the spread.
  • Their last five games have all gone over the betting total.
  • They have lost five of their previous six games on the road against the spread.
  • Five of their last six games against teams from the West have gone over the points total.
  • LA has only lost three of their previous 16 matches against teams based in the Northwest Division.

The Lakers have a good offense that likes to drive the ball to the basket as often as possible. Given they don’t have a significant percentage from the free-throw line, Minnesota’s best tactic might be to play aggressively against the driving game. Here are their top five plays of the week, highlighting their offensive skills.

Their offense hasn’t been as good on the road, which is a surprise for a team with the best record away from home.

They have a great defense that concedes, on average a 105 points per game. They work extremely hard and close the space down all over the court. The Lakers rebound the ball very well defensively and make many blocks per game, making them a well-drilled unit at the back.

Unlike their offense, their defense has been better on the road and concedes the lowest amount of points per game on average in the country.

It’s strange to see a team doing as well as the Lakers not to have a single-player towards the top of the league leaders. This highlights what a great team they have and that every player plays a part in their success.

Davis and Anteokounmpo are out of tonight’s game, and they are some doubts over James’ fitness as he struggles with an ankle injury.

Timberwolves Preview

The Timberwolves ended a run of four straight defeats by beating the Raptors in their last game. If they are to win tonight, they will have to do something they have failed to do since the opening two games of the season, and that is win back to back.

As you might expect, they have been poor at home this season, winning four of their 12 matches to date. However, two of those wins did come in their previous four games, and they have alternated wins with defeats. If that trend continues tonight, then victory will be theirs.

Perhaps their slight improvement in form is down to Towns’ return, who has missed a large portion of the season through injury.

Here are the latest betting trends for Minnesota:

  • The Timberwolves have only lost one of their last nine games against the spread.
  • Four of their last five games have gone over the betting total.
  • Only one game of their previous five against the Lakers has failed to go under the points total.
  • Minnesota is 4-0-1 against the spread in their last five games against opponents in the Western Conference.
  • They haven’t done as well against teams in the Pacific Division, winning only one of their previous five matches against the spread.

The Timberwolves have a feeble offense this season. I don’t think it’s a lack of effort; they don’t seem to have it in them, specifically their atrocious shooting.

Unfortunately, their defense has been any better, and they are conceding 115 points per game on average. They will undoubtedly need to improve upon their poor defensive rebounding if they stand any chance of causing an upset tonight, as the Lakers will gobble up any second chances they are given.

However, they do work hard to win the ball back, making on average an impressive eight steals per game. With the Lakers not shooting particularly well from the free-throw line, this is an area they can afford to be overzealous in.

Generally, you would have to say that they are an aggressive team, and they will need to show plenty of that tonight.

The Timberwolves will miss Russell and Culver for the visit of the Lakers.

Lakers vs. Timberwolves Betting Pick

I believe the Lakers haven’t enjoyed playing against the Timberwolves in recent years as they have tended to turn these games into dog fights, and I see this being no different. With the Lakers missing some key players and others having fitness concerns, the last thing they will want is a war against a team fighting for their lives.

The Timberwolves are just finding their feet after the return of Towns, and it seemed like they were starting to click last time out against the Raptors. The Lakers may also have one eye on their next games against the Nets. I will therefore take the Timberwolves with the handicap to win this one.

Pick
  • Timberwolves (+7.5)
    -110

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