Lakers vs. Wolves Preview: A potential first round series matchup

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Lakers vs. Wolves Preview: A potential first round series matchup

The Lakers can make it five wins in a row and do it by making a statement against a potential first round playoff opponent in the Wolves on Sunday.

The Lakers can make it five wins in a row and do it by making a statement against a potential first round playoff opponent in the Wolves on Sunday.

The Lakers are back at it on Sunday where they host the Minnesota Timberwolves. This will be the final back-to-back game for L.A. this season as they hope to extend their winning streak to five and tie the season series against Minnesota.

Start time and TV schedule

Who: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

When: 7 p.m. PT, Apr 7.

Where: Crypto.com Arena

Watch: NBA TV, Spectrum Sportsnet

Saturday’s victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers felt like a rollercoaster ride for the Lakers, who were led by D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Davis and Taurean Prince. After leading by as many as 16 points in the first half, nothing was more predictable than this team giving up an 11-2 run to begin the third quarter. At one point, Cleveland looked like the team that could’ve escaped with the victory after they went up by four in the third quarter.

But thanks to Davis’ impressive defense alongside Prince’s 18 points off the bench and Reaves turning it up midway through the third quarter, L.A. managed to put together a 16-0 run to pull the game away.

Despite 17 turnovers and allowing 11 second-chance opportunities, it was nice to see this Lakers team find a way to still win, even if a couple of things weren’t going their way. It’s an encouraging sign for the purple and gold heading into the Playoffs.

With four games left on their schedule, the Lakers finally moved up from the ninth seed for the first time since Dec. 29, 2023. They theoretically can still push for the sixth seed but, as I mentioned in my last preview, the most realistic path for them now is to take it one game at a time because these results are extremely unpredictable. They got a ton of help in the standings on Friday but who knows if this will be the case again in the next few days.

What the Lakers will most likely focus on entering Sunday’s primetime game against the Wolves is their goal to extend their winning streak to five and make a statement against a potential first round opponent in the playoffs.

The Lakers were in the same situation last year when they defeated the Memphis Grizzlies at home and exposed the fact that they were a bad matchup for them. They have the opportunity to do the same to this Wolves team on Sunday who have been wrestling back-and-forth with the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder for that first seed in the Western Conference. Here’s everything you need to know about the visiting Wolves:

Zooming into the Wolves

Since losing Karl Anthony Towns to injury, the Wolves have actually done better than expected, winning 10 out of their last 15 games. They deserve a ton of credit for being consistently good this season, but what’s clear is that they’re just not a complete team without KAT. So much of their success—especially offensively—depends on the big man.

The Lakers made the most out of KAT and Rudy Gobert’s absence in their last meeting as Davis put up 27 points with 25 rebounds, five assists, a career-high seven steals and three blocks. There’s a good chance this doesn’t happen again knowing that the Wolves are still playing for something and that Gobert is expected to suit up this time around. So L.A. will have to work hard for this victory with the rest disadvantage.

The key for the Lakers is for everyone to contribute across the board just like this victory against the Cavs. They’re not going to produce 64 points in the paint again, so their shooting will have to show up in this one, especially against the Wolves’ size. L.A. also needs to watch out for Naz Reid — who seems to play like a Hall of Famer every time against the Lakers — and, of course, Anthony Edwards.

This Wolves team is coming off a disappointing loss to the Phoenix Suns so they’ll most likely want to make up for that. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Lakers attack the game and find a way to expose Minnesota’s weakness against them.

Let’s see if the purple and gold can make it five in a row and continue to improve their chances to climb up the standings as they play game number 78th on Sunday.

Notes and Updates:

  • The Lakers currently have the longest winning streak in the Western Conference at four games. They’re 9-1 in their last 10 and are just one game back of the seventh-seeded New Orleans Pelicans, who they currently own the tie-breaker against.
  • The Lakers have also been doing well on the second night of back-to-backs recently. They’ve improved their record to 8-6 and have won their last six games with no rest advantage. So kudos to them for improving in this after struggling on back to backs to start the season.
  • As is the case on back-to-backs, the Lakers' injury report is not released until a couple of hours before tipoff. LeBron James (left ankle peroneal tendinopathy), who played 36 minutes on Saturday, will most likely be a game-time decision. Expect the same names, specifically Jalen Hood-Schifino (lumbar disc surgery), Jarred Vanderbilt (right midfoot sprain), and Christian Wood (left knee surgery), to be out.
  • As for the Wolves, Karl Anthony Towns (left meniscus injury) and Jaylen Clark (Achilles) are out.

You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani

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