When it all was said and done and the 2022-23 NBA regular season came to a close, the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves as the seventh seed in the Western Conference and will take part in the Play-In Tournament. Their opponent on Tuesday night will be the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team who has given the Lakers problems this year.
The Timberwolves climbed into the eighth seed thanks to their victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday, a victory that came despite some chaos erupting within the team. Center Rudy Gobert threw a punch at teammate Kyle Anderson in the first half of the game, while forward Jaden McDaniels was seen punching a wall in frustration later on as well.
This could have major consequences for Tuesday’s Play-In Game against the Lakers. According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez of ESPN, McDaniels suffered a fractured hand and is out for the season while Gobert could also be suspended for the punch thrown at Anderson:
The Minnesota Timberwolves spiraled into a state of chaos Sunday, as they lost breakout forward Jaden McDaniels for the season with a fractured right hand after he punched a wall in frustration and faced the possibility that center Rudy Gobert could be leveled with a team suspension for Tuesday’s Western Conference play-in game at the Los Angeles Lakers for striking teammate Kyle Anderson in a huddle, sources told ESPN.
It was later reported that Gobert will indeed be suspended for the game:
Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert isn’t traveling with team to LA and won’t play vs. the Lakers on Tuesday in the Play-In tournament, sources tell ESPN. pic.twitter.com/Gey3twxchn
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 10, 2023
Losing McDaniels is a huge blow for the Timberwolves as has become a crucial piece of their rotation. McDaniels is their top perimeter defender who likely would have been shadowing LeBron James, and he is also one of their best shooters at nearly 40% from 3-point range on the season.
Likewise, Gobert has obviously been a huge piece for the Timberwolves this season and anchors the team’s defense in the paint while also being a finisher at the rim, particularly since their acquisition of point guard Mike Conley. The Lakers potentially not having to deal with him in the paint could be huge for Anthony Davis on the inside.
But whether or not he is there the Lakers must come in laser-focused and locked in on Tuesday. There are clearly some issues going on within the Minnesota locker room, but they are still an extremely talented team capable of winning on the Lakers’ home floor if they don’t come out firing on all cylinders.
Lakers sign Tristan Thompson, Shaquille Harrison to bolster playoff roster
The Lakers will have a pair of new players on the roster when the Play-In Game tips off on Tuesday as the team signed big man Tristan Thompson and guard Shaquille Harrison prior to Sunday’s regular-season finale. The team waived guard Davon Reed to make room for the signings.
Head coach Darvin Ham explained the moves were made to “shore up our backcourt and to shore up our front line,” noting Thompson’s championship level experience, and Harrison’s ability to defend and someone who is familiar with the Lakers system having spent this year with the South Bay Lakers of the G League.
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