After a disastrous start to the 2022-23 season, the Los Angeles Lakers have transformed themselves into a legitimate playoff threat following a successful trade deadline.
The Lakers turned several ill-fitting pieces into productive role players in almost one fell swoop, setting themselves up for a second half run that even the most optimistic people couldn’t have imagined. Los Angeles had an outside shot of finishing with the No. 6 seed, but still did well for themselves securing the No. 7 seed and the opportunity to host the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Play-In Tournament.
The purple and gold employ several former Timberwolves on their roster, including Malik Beasley who admitted he’s looking forward to getting revenge on his former team.
“We’re excited to play them, get our revenge back, me, Vando and DLo. And then after that, it looks like another setup for Memphis so we’re excited to get this little playoff stretch going on and get our revenge back and do whatever we got to do to win a championship.”
As far as how the Lakers finished out the season, Beasley was happy with the close but also said he believes the team would be in a higher seed had they been able to play the entire year out together.
“I think we finished great,” Beasley said. “Like I said, I wish we were here all year so we could be settled in a playoff position right now, I feel like we would be in the top four or top five and not playing in this Play-In Game but we know what we got to do. We got to take care of business and get to it.”
The revenge narrative is certainly at play here as the Timberwolves shipped out Beasley, Russell and Vanderbilt in the blockbuster deal that allowed them to acquire Rudy Gobert. Funnily enough, though, Gobert won’t play as he was suspended for throwing a punch at Kyle Anderson in their win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
For someone like Beasley who’s managed to break out of his shooting slump, Tuesday’s matchup is an excellent way for him to show the Lakers what he can do in a playoff-style game. Hopefully he’s able to catch fire from deep again and punch the team’s ticket to the postseason.
D’Angelo Russell doesn’t have extra motivation playing against Timberwolves
While Beasley seems fired up to play the Timberwolves, Russell seems to be even-keeled. Russell explained that Minnesota is a team that happens to be in the way of what L.A. is trying to accomplish, so he doesn’t have any extra motivation for their game.
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