Everything you need to know about LA’s huge game against Minnesota.
Your Los Angeles Lakers are getting set to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday in a must-win game — to be fair, just about every game is a must-win game at this point.
The Lakers will be without LeBron James and former Timberwolves point guard D’Angelo Russell, but will have Anthony Davis and Dennis Schröder in the lineup.
The Lakers are coming off a huge win against the Oklahoma City Thunder without James, Russell and Davis, so they’ll be very happy to welcome AD back on Friday. Here’s everything you need to know for Friday’s come, including our All Lakers expert predictions.
1. Who is going to lead the Lakers in scoring tonight?
Noah: Anthony Davis is definitely the safe answer, considering the offense should run through him on Friday night. However, I’m going to go with a bit of a sleeper, and say Malik Beasley. He’s going to get a ton of shots up, and I see him scoring upwards of 25-plus against his former team.
Alex: I love Beasley’s confidence when it comes hoisting up treys. The man’s appetite for triples is insatiable, that’s a good call. I’ll go in a different direction and err on the side of LA’s most recent leading scorer, Dennis Schröder.
2. How will the Lakers slow down Anthony Edwards?
Alex: Darvin Ham enjoys putting utility forward Jarred Vanderbilt on a lot of opposing teams’ toughest defensive assignments, from big guards to power forwards. He might make sense here. Malik Beasley is a decent defender (that, along with his willingness to hoist up nine triples a game for LA, are the chief reasons he has totally supplanted both Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker IV in LA’s shooting guard rotation) and could get a look.
Noah: Two words: Jarred Vanderbilt. Look for him to be the guy on Edwards, and to do everything he can to make his life miserable.
3. What will Mo Bamba’s role look like?
Noah: With Rudy Gobert being the opposing big man, I see Bamba playing a significant role tonight. He won’t start alongside AD, but he should play a ton of minutes to try to clog the paint and stretch the floor on the other side.
Alex: I like this idea, but I think it makes too much sense. Darvin Ham likes to make his job harder unnecessarily, and thus I think he’s going to overplay Wenyen Gabriel and relegate Bamba to spot-up minutes in the fourth quarter again, like he did on Tuesday when he last had his full compliment of centers.
4. What former Timberwolves player wants to win the most tonight?
Alex: Jarred Vanderbilt has somehow been traded away twice, and he’s just 23 years old on an insanely good three-year, $13.1 million deal. He might make that much annually with his next contract, because despite an inability to shoot he gives teams so much on the defensive end of the floor. He’s got to be feeling under-appreciated at each of his last two stops, Minnesota and Utah. He will punish them tonight.
Noah: I mean you can pick any of them, but I’m going to go with D’Angelo Russell, as he was on the team the most recently. He may not be playing, but he’s going to be pumping his guys up to get this revenge.
5. Who you got tonight?
Noah: It’s a huge game for both sides, but I think the Lakers, at home, will get the job done. Look for Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to make huge impacts — again — and for the Lakers to head into the weekend feeling really good about their playoff chances. Give me Lakers by five.
Alex: I think despite valiant efforts from Vanderbilt and Schröder especially, the Lakers will fall short. The best player on the floor will be Anthony Edwards, and if the rest of the team feeds him appropriately, he should do just enough to steal a critical, winnable game away from LA.