The much-improved Minnesota Timberwolves are a must-bet this Friday when they host the LA Lakers as a pick’em on the NBA odds board.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
Friday, December 17, 2021 – 10:00 PM EST at Target Center
You know the drill by now: Fade the Los Angeles Lakers when LeBron James is playing. It’s a beautiful thing: The Lakers (16-13 SU, 11-18 ATS) are 11-6 SU and 5-12 ATS this year when King James is holding court. That includes Wednesday tilt with the Dallas Mavericks, which the Lakers won 107-104 in overtime as 4-point road faves on the closing NBA lines.
Having said that, LeBron has upped his game lately, and the Lakers are 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS in his past five games. But he’s still not the MVP he used to be, his team has been riven by COVID-19, and Friday’s opponents are the Minnesota Timberwolves (13-15 SU and ATS), who have no injuries or illness to report. This matchup has opened as a pick’em on the NBA odds board at BetOnline. You know we have to do it to ‘em.
Losing Is a Disease
In case there’s any doubt, FiveThirtyEight project Minnesota ahead by four points, and ESPN’s Basketball Power Index likes the Wolves to win 57.8 percent of the time, which is somewhere around –2 according to Wizard of Odds. This isn’t just the James angle we’re working with here; Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, and Malik Monk all entered the league protocol on Tuesday.
(Special update: Russell Westbrook and Avery Bradley were added to the COVID-19 list Thursday afternoon, prompting the Lakers to sign Isaiah Thomas under the league’s hardship exemption. They are now +1.5 at press time.)
Not that we can trust the protocol. James was quickly in and out last month after what apparently turned out to be a false positive, so maybe these other guys can do the same – check the morning shoot-around to make sure.
Also, waiting is good anyway in this case. The Lakers (with LeBron) are a very public team, and if you waited until closer to Wednesday’s tip-off to put the Mavericks in your NBA picks, you got them at +4 instead of +1.5. Delightful.
All right, enough Lakers already. Let’s talk Wolves: They’re not bad. Karl-Anthony Towns (plus-4.3 BPM at Basketball Reference) isn’t quite his old self either – and no wonder, with everything the coronavirus has done to him – but fellow No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards (plus-1.1 BPM) is already playing better than average ball as a sophomore, and former No. 2 pick D'Angelo Russell (plus-1.1 BPM) is healthy for a change.
Add incompetent veteran Patrick Beverley (plus-1.6 BPM) and emerging glue-guy Jarred Vanderbilt (plus-0.4 BPM), and you’ve got a starting five that’s all plusses in the Box Plus/Minus category. Granted, the bench is pretty thin aside from promising big man Naz Reid (minus-0.6 BPM) and sometimes-steady veteran Malik Beasley (minus-2.5 BPM), but that’s still plenty more talent on the hoof than what we’re used to seeing in the Gopher State.
Let’s take advantage at the best sportsbooks with a reasonably chunky bet, maybe two units instead of one this time – depending on what price you can get Friday night.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.