Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Los Angeles Lakers Prediction, Preview, Picks & Odds - 1/2/2022

by Chuck Sommers

Saturday, Jan 01, 2022
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
Where to watch: SPECSN, Bally Sports North

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Lakers -7.5
BetMGM: Lakers -8.5
Caesars: NL

Season record
Timberwolves: 16-19 (9th place, West)
Lakers: 18-19 (7th place, West)

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Timberwolves - Lakers preview and analysis

Recent form
Timberwolves: lost four of five; lost 120-108 at Jazz on Friday
Lakers: won 139-106 vs. Trail Blazers on Friday

The Los Angeles Lakers may not be playing all that well right now, but man, it's always fun to watch LeBron James turn back the clock a little bit.

LeBron has been on a tear the last seven games, despite the fact his teammates have not picked up the slack around him and the Lakers are 2-5 in that time. The Lakers will try to turn things around when they face the shorthanded Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday in the land of Crypto dot com.

James has gone seven straight games of reaching at least 30 points. He's averaging 36 points and 11 rebounds during that span, another indication that he's doing everything humanly possible to drag this corpse of a team across the finish line.

One has to wonder what would happen if LeBron played more than 29 minutes, because he would've scored more than 43 points. Yes, it took less than 30 minutes for LeBron to hit 43 points along with 14 rebounds in the Lakers' 33-point win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.

That explosion led to one of the Lakers' best offensive performances of the season, shooting 55.3 percent from the floor while hitting 19 of 41 3-point attempts. Seven players scored in double figures for the Lakers, with Malik Monk's 18 and Carmelo Anthony's 16 to follow LeBron's masterful performance.

While LeBron's performance was ridiculously amazing, we do have to remember the opponent. The Blazers have not been good this year; they're down a number of key players, including C.J. McCollum. Take that into account and realize who the Timberwolves are missing right now; literally almost all of their Big Three

Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell are in COVID protocol and will not be available for this game. Minnesota has lost four of five and is coming off a 12-point loss to the Utah Jazz on the road. Anthony Edwards made his return from COVID in that game, scoring 26 points in 32 minutes to continue his stellar sophomore season. Edwards is questionable for this game, however, due to conditioning.

Don't be surprised if Edwards misses this game.

Even though the Wolves are dealing with a COVID outbreak, they're still right in the thick of things in the playoff race. A lot can change within the next few months, but one certainty is if Edwards continues this rise from his Rookie of the Year campaign, things are looking good as a complementary pairing with Towns.

The Timberwolves are 6-2-1 in their last nine against the spread and pushed against Utah as 12-point dogs. 


The line as constrcuted likely takes into account that the books don't believe Edwards will play. Minnesota needs him to in order for the T'Wolves to have a chance. I think if Minnesota was smart, sitting Edwards would be the right call. No sense in having him play while he's working his way back into shape in which his first assignment is LeBron. I like the Lakers going away. Lakers by 19

Betting trends

The over is 5-0 in the Timberwolves' last five road games.

The Timberwolves are 3-0-1 in their last four following a straight-up loss.

The over is 4-1 in the Lakers' last five.

The under is 5-2 in the last seven matchups in Los Angeles.

Projected starting lineup

PG: Patrick Beverley
SG: Malik Beasley
Jaden McDaniels
Naz Reid
Nathan Knight

PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Malik Monk
Avery Bradley
LeBron James
Dwight Howard

Key injuries

Karl-Anthony Towns (COVID, out), D'Angelo Russell (COVID, out), Anthony Edwards (COVID, out)

Anthony Davis (knee, out)

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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