The LA Lakers host the Minnesota Timberwolves at Crypto.com Arena on Sunday. Both teams have struggled so far this season. The 18-19 Lakers aren't the title favorites everyone expected them to be, while the 16-19 Timberwolves might miss the playoffs once again.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have certainly improved but not enough to make noise in the playoffs. Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns now share the mantle of the best player on the team, while D'Angelo Russell is anchoring the team's defense. The Timberwolves are, surprisingly, ninth in defensive rating this season.
The LA Lakers, on the other hand, have massively disappointed the fans with their performances. What was supposed to be a star-studded title-contending team is now at risk of missing the playoffs. They turn the ball over too much, have abysmal defense, and don't shoot the ball well from the three-point or free-throw line. All are recipes for a disaster and even though LeBron James is trying his best to carry the team, they are nowhere near the other top teams in the West.
Minnesota Timberwolves Injury Report
The Minnesota Timberwolves still have D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns under the NBA's health and safety protocols. Anthony Edwards, Taurean Prince, Jarred Vanderbilt and McKinley Wright IV have all cleared protocols but are still listed as questionable as they go through conditioning to return to game shape.
The starters, Edwards and Vanderbilt, are expected to play, though.
LA Lakers Injury Report
Even though he is playing at a high level, LeBron James continues to be listed on the injury report with an abdomen strain. Anthony Davis is still recovering from his MCL tear and Kendrick Nunn remains sidelined with a bone bruise in the knee.
Jay Huff and Mason Jones are both sent to the G-League because of their two-way contract obligations. Most importantly, Rajon Rondo is still listed under the LA Lakers' injury report despite getting traded to the Cavaliers.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs LA Lakers: Predicted Lineups
The Minnesota Timberwolves will have a hampered lineup as most of their starters are unavailable. If Anthony Edwards and Jarred Vanderbilt lace-up, they will retain their positions as small and power forwards respectively. Naz Reid is expected to start as the center until Towns returns, while Malik Beasley will likely fill D'Angelo Russell's role as the off-guard. Patrick Beverly should continue as the point guard. Jaden McDaniels and Josh Okogie are expected to get the most minutes off the bench.
Although LeBron James is listed on the injury report, we expect him to lace up like he has been for the past few weeks. He should likely play the power forward role, with Dwight Howard starting at center. Russell Westbrook should retain his point guard position while Malik Monk joins him in the backcourt. Avery Bradley should now play the small forward role with players like Stanley Johnson, Austin Reaves, DeAndre Jordan, and Trevor Ariza coming off the bench.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs LA Lakers: Predicted Starting 5s
G - Patrick Beverly | G - Malik Beasley | F - Anthony Edwards | F - Jarred Vanderbilt | C - Naz Reid.
G - Russell Westbrook | G - Malik Monk | F - Avery Bradley | F - LeBron James | C - Dwight Howard.
Q. Who will win?
50 votes so far