Lakers Vs. Timberwolves Preview: Anthony Davis Expected Back For Beginning Of Homestand
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers return home to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night. It’s the first of five games in the next 10 days for the Lakers at Crypto.Com Arena and the second-to-last meeting between the two teams this season.

The Lakers are coming off a key victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road. The Timberwolves defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in L.A. on Wednesday. Minnesota is currently in eighth place and just 1.5 games ahead of the Lakers. Depending on the outcome of the New Orleans Pelicans game, a win for the purple and gold puts them firmly in the Play-In spot.

A win though will have to come without two important players — LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell, who are out again with their respective injuries.

LeBron is expected to be reevaluated in three weeks after sustaining a right foot injury. Even if his initial evaluation goes well, a ramp-up period will delay his return. He will likely miss at least 10 of the final 19 games for the Lakers, and depending on the current standings once he’s healed, sitting out the rest of the year may be in play.

Russell will miss his fourth straight game due to a right ankle sprain. Though initially, it seemed he would return against the Timberwolves, Russell still isn’t 100%. His next chance to return will be against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.

Everyone else will suit up for the Lakers, which includes Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder who are expected to play after being listed as probable.

The Timberwolves continue to miss Karl Anthony-Towns who has been out since Nov. 2022 with a calf strain. Jaylen Nowell is also out for Minnesota, but there are no other injuries for the Timberwolves.

It’s been just over four months since the first matchup between the Lakers and Timberwolves. To say these are two different teams since then would be an understatement. The Lakers played four players in that game that are currently on a different roster. Minnesota has maintained some continuity but replaced Russell and Towns with Mike Conley and Kyle Anderson in their starting lineup.

Those changes have opened the door for young superstar Anthony Edwards to burst through. He’s averaged 25 points, 5 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game since Russell was traded away, including three 30-point plus outings. His explosive scoring hasn’t always led to wins, however.

Minnesota is struggling to find consistency, dropping four of their last seven games since trading Russell. After going 12-4 in January, they went 5-6 last month with Edwards’s scoring and efficiency taking a hit.

The Wolves are in the middle of the pack in terms of offensive and defensive stats. What hurts them the most is turnovers — they average 15.8 a game, the third-highest mark in the league. Minnesota, however, forces 16 turnovers a game. The Clippers had 25 against them the other night. Especially since the Lakers will be without playmakers, taking care of the basketball will be important against the Wolves. L.A. had 26 turnovers two games ago against the Memphis Grizzlies.

A win for the Lakers will go a long way in their playoff chances, especially with the Warriors coming back into town on Sunday.

Los Angeles Lakers (30-33) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (32-32)

7:30 p.m. PT, March 3, 2023
Crypto.Com Arena
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Malik Beasley
SF: Troy Brown Jr.
PF: Jarred Vanderbilt
C: Anthony Davis

Key Reserves: Austin Reaves, Lonnie Walker IV, Rui Hachimura, Wenyen Gabriel, Mo Bamba

Projected Timberwolves Starting Lineup:

PG: Mike Conley
SG: Anthony Edwards
SF: Kyle Anderson
PF: Jaden McDaniels
C: Rudy Gobert

Key Reserves: Taurean Prince, Naz Reid, Jordan McLaughlin, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Austin Rivers

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