NBA Play-In Betting Preview | Timberwolves vs Lakers Odds, Pick, Prediction
Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images. Pictured: Austin Reaves and LeBron James.
- The Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers square off in the second NBA Play-In Tournament game on Tuesday night.
- The Rudy Gobert-less Timberwolves are 8-point underdogs to the Lakers.
- Andrew O'Connor-Watts breaks down Timberwolves vs. Lakers and provides three player prop picks for Austin Reaves, Karl-Anthony Towns and Mike Conley.
Timberwolves vs. Lakers Odds
|Over/Under||231.5 (-110 / -110)|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Timberwolves square off against the Lakers on Tuesday night in the second game of the 2023 NBA Play-In Tournament.
The Wolves will be without Jaden McDaniels and Rudy Gobert. The former is out indefinitely due to a fractured right hand sustained after punching a wall, while the latter is out indefinitely for punching teammate Kyle Anderson.
The Timberwolves suspended Gobert — who did not travel with the team to Los Angeles — for just the one game against the Lakers, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The assumption is that Gobert will be available to play in Minnesota’s next game — either against the winner of Thunder–Pelicans or Game 1 against the Grizzlies.
The Lakers should be relatively healthy, with only Dennis Schroder in question.
Continue reading for my breakdown and betting pick for the Timberwolves vs. Lakers showdown at Crypto.com Arena.
The Gobert-Anderson turmoil can hardly be ignored when breaking down this game, but so much of the actionable information is unknown without access to Minnesota’s locker room.
We don’t know how the Wolves will respond to the conflict. It could be a chemistry disaster, or it could be a galvanizing force that brings the team together. I lean to the latter, but with so much unknown, let’s focus on what we do know.
We know the Wolves have a much better offense when Gobert sits. According to StatMuse, the Timberwolves have an Offensive Rating of 118.1 in 12 games without Gobert. Compare that to their 113.8 rating when he does play, and we see a significant increase in offensive efficiency when the Wolves get to play with spacing.
I expect the Wolves to take full advantage of that space without Gobert, McDaniels and backup big man Naz Reid, who continues to miss extended time with a wrist injury.
The Wolves have no option but to go small against the Lakers, who are already susceptible to 3-point barrages — especially ones coming from above the break. L.A. allows the ninth-most 3-point attempts and the seventh-most non-corner threes, per Cleaning the Glass.
That puts shooters like Karl-Anthony Towns and Mike Conley in prime position to go off from deep. Towns and Conley rank in the 85th and 80th percentiles, respectively, in non-corner 3-point rate.
Los Angeles Lakers
Finally playing at full strength, the Lakers handled business late and willed themselves to the No. 7 seed after a terrible start to the regular season. They became just the sixth team in NBA history to begin the season at 2-10 or worse and finish with a record above .500.
Over their last 10 games, the Lakers have gone 8-2 straight up and 6-4 ATS, winning games with a combination of fast-paced offense and a grinding half-court defense. During this stretch, the Lakers’ transition offense hasn’t ranked below the 50th percentile except for just one game — a win against the Thunder in which LeBron James was sidelined.
Lakers games have been high scoring despite efficient half-court defense. Where L.A. has struggled defensively is in transition, ranking 28th, though it does have the ninth-best half-court defense (per Cleaning the Glass). The over is 9-1 in Lakers games.
A primary benefactor of the fast-paced scoring has been Austin Reaves. His statistical output has increased significantly from his season averages of 13 points, 3.4 assists and 3 rebounds per game. In the past 10 games, Reaves is averaging 18.3 points, 6.1 assists and 3.3 rebounds.
Reaves’ playmaking has been a particularly prominent feature lately, nearly doubling in the past two weeks. His usage has increased from 15.4 to 17.2, and he’s increased from 6.2 to 10.2 potential assists per game — a telling stat for play-making opportunity.
For the side and total, I lean Timberwolves +7.5 and over 231.5. Without Gobert, the Wolves are just 5-7 to the over, but in the five games that went over, the average total was 233.1, compared to an average total of 237.1 on the seven games that went under.
Last season, however, every play-in game went under and since the tournament’s inception, only three games have gone over in 12 contests. I think we’ll see more overs, but I might hold off on it for now and see if the line drops. Follow me in the Action app (AOWatts) to see how I play the total.
In the meantime, I like player props on both sides. I mentioned Towns and Conley’s proclivity towards above-the-break threes — a Laker weakness — and I like both of their overs for 3-pointers made.
Conley has cleared his line of 2.5 in five of the last 10 games, but at +130, he’d only have to clear that line 43.5% of the time to break even.
Pick: Mike Conley Over 2.5 Threes (+130)
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Towns’ line is also 2.5. He’s cleared that in just three of the eight games since returning from injury, but without Gobert clogging the paint, he should get a lot more looks.
His odds to make at least three is +120, which translates to a 45.5% break-even percentage. With his inevitable increase in usage and extra spacing, I’ll gladly take a stab at his 3-point prop down to +100.
Pick: Karl-Anthony Towns Over 2.5 Threes (+120 | Bet to +100)
Finally, we have Reaves.
I’ve already bet his assists prop at over 4.5 assists (+124), which is easily my favorite play in this one. He’s cleared this line in 14 of the last 18 games, and as I’ve already mentioned, his usage and potential assists have gone way up. For that reason, I’d bet this down to -110 or 5.5 assists at any plus-money price.
Pick: Austin Reaves Over 4.5 Assists (+124)
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