After two stunning losses, the Los Angeles Lakers (23-16) look to stop the bleeding in the form of the Minnesota Timberwolves (21-19). The Wolves are another team that the Lakers have owned but LA has been unable to put away inferior opponents on the road as of late.
Tip-off is scheduled for Friday, 8:00 pm ET at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
NBA odds boards have the Lakers as a slim 1 point favorite and the total is currently at 192. When it comes to placing our NBA picks on this matchup, are we better off looking at the spread or the total? Find out which side we are on.
Minnesota is seeking its sixth consecutive home win. Can they crack the code otherwise known as Bryant, Gasol, and Bynum? This should be a very competitive game.
Possible NBA MVP?
I know that you all think that I'm going to mention the name of Kobe Bryant but actually I'm referring to former UCLA star Kevin Love. Love is the most underrated player in basketball because he doesn't play on one of the elite teams but he's simply unstoppable.
Kevin Love is the reason why the Timberwolves are 8th in scoring and 3rd in rebounding in the league as he consistently produces high end double-doubles. If you're a fantasy leaguer, Kevin Love is on top of your list. If you're a NBA bettor, he's your best friend if you side with the Wolves as he averages 25.5 points and 13.8 rebounds per game. In his last 3 contests, Love is averaging 36.6 points and 14.3 rebounds per game. That's no typo, folks.
Love can also shoot the 3 ball at 6 foot 10, shooting 13 of 23 in his last 3 games. What makes him so good is his improvement has snuck up on the league in a small market area. Quite frankly, I don't know of another player that I'd want on my team besides Kevin Love.
Love will be tested by the great size of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, but he's passed every other test, therefore there's no reason to think that he won't play well here.
After missing two games due to a sore foot, center Nikola Pekovic is expected to return for the Wolves. This would be key for the Timberwolves as the 6 foot 11; 290 pound Pekovic could offset the Bynum-Gasol combination.
Nobody expected much out of Nikola Pekovic but he had a hot February in where he averaged 16.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. He has simmered down in March but is still a legitimate force to contend with. The Timberwolves are an up and coming team and it starts in the middle with Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. They should be a rough test for the Lakers, who are trying to avoid 3 straight losses.
Los Angeles is going to have to do a better job of holding on to leads as they got off to an early start against Detroit and most recently had a 64-49 edge over the lowly Wizards but couldn't hold on.
Time to retire, playa.....
I'm going to point out the Lakers weaknesses instead of their three strengths in Bryant, Gasol, and Bynum that you already know about.
It's time for Derek Fisher to unlace his sneakers and hang them up. He might be good at leading negotiations as a player representative in lockout talks but his best days as a player are long gone.
Los Angeles needs someone in the backcourt to give them production as Kobe Bryant get's older. Although Derek Fisher is good at collecting checks and championship rings, his lack of production leaves a lot to be desired. Occasionally he'll hit the big shot, but overall he's averaging 8.6 points and 3.4 rebounds.
To Derek Fisher and Metta World Peace, I say enough already, you have no place being starters for the Los Angeles Lakers. Dr. Buss needs to intervene and get these guys on the bench or off the team.
Carving out a career
I must say that guard Steve Blake has found a way to carve out a legitimate career for himself. Would you have thought that Kobe Bryant would be dishing the ball to Blake for 3? I sure didn't, but Blake has done a great job at fitting his role and providing the Lakers with a lift whenever they need it.
Lately, Blake has been slumping, scoring 4 points in 89 minutes of play that spans 4 games. He needs to look for his offense and that kind of play is simply not acceptable at the NBA level and is partially why LA has lost their last 2 games. I can't say whether Steve Blake will get back on track but he needs to do what he's paid for and that's put the ball in the net and occasionally find the open man.
LA or Minny?
Not a great game for picking sides as the Lakers have been "Showtime" in the 1st half of games and been Sesame Street in the latter stages of games. There's a lot of offensive punch in this game and I like the over. Look for a competitive, high scoring game.
NBA Pick: Lakers/Wolves over 192