Lakers vs. Timberwolves: Total Is Worth Keeping Eye On

Action Network contributor Jim Turvey previews Friday night's Western Conference tilt between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Lakers vs. Timberwolves Odds

Lakers Odds -1
Timberwolves Odds +1
Over/Under 232.5
Time 8 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The 39-38 Minnesota Timberwolves host the 38-38 Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. You’ve been hearing it for months, but the West still hasn’t separated itself, and as such, each night feels like it is of massive importance.

These teams are battling for postseason positioning and this could be a play-in round preview. Both teams will have most of their key names as Karl-Anthony Towns recently returned for the Wolves and LeBron James is back for the Lakers. There are some names on the injury report, but almost all are probable (Naz Reid is the biggest name most likely to miss this contest).

The Wolves have already secured the tiebreaker, but there will be plenty more implications from this one, which is priced right around a pick’em. Here’s a betting preview for Lakers vs. Timberwolves, including a pick and prediction.

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Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers play one of the most interior-centric offenses in the NBA. They take 3s at a bottom-five rate and score the seventh-most points in the paint. Those numbers have moved a bit since their trade deadline overhaul, but this is still a team that does most of its work inside. They also don’t often take advantage of their opponent’s mistakes and average the second-fewest points off turnovers per game this season. (It never ceases to amaze me that the teams with James and Giannis Antetokounmpo — both one-man fast breaks — sit at the bottom of that category.)

Unfortunately for L.A., it is going against a team that has Rudy Gobert in the middle, but often gifts its opponents points off turnovers. Gobert has looked strong lately, especially on the glass since Town’s return.

The Wolves send their opponents to the line and, as you may have seen, the Lakers have paraded to the line since their infamous loss against the Celtics.

It will be interesting to keep an eye on that in this game.

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves have looked pretty strong since Towns’ return. They beat the Hawks at home and then came through with a big road win over the Warriors in Towns; second game back. Minnesota’s most recent outing was a loss, a seven-point defeat in Phoenix against Kevin Durant and the Suns.

Interestingly enough, the defense has looked better. Minnesota held the Warriors under 100 points and limited Phoenix to 107. Of course, that’s a tiny sample and overall, Towns is going to have a more positive impact on the offense than the defense.

This game could set up nicely for the over. These teams both rank high in terms of pace, and with both rosters near full strength, their offensive repertoires should be full.

Lakers-Timberwolves Pick

By the numbers, I’d have the Wolves as roughly a two-point favorite, but I can’t shake the worry about the free throws they are going to get in this game. So instead, I am turning to the total.

With teams that love to push the pace and a pair of healthy rosters, the over looks like a strong bet. However, I’m only making this a lean because of the Wolves’ recent low-scoring games. I tend not to weigh recent games too much, unless there is a big change to the team — such as Towns’ return.

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