Wednesday night marks the second matchup of the regular season between the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves. And while the latter took that game, which was a 124-120 nail-biter, we're betting on a different outcome this time around.
It's not necessarily that the Lakers are better than they were a little over a week ago. They're not. And this doesn't just have to do with them playing LeBron James. They'll have him ready to rock, but he's yet to miss a game this season, and still they're struggling to hit three-pointers and cobble together something better than a bottom-five defense.
This pick has more to do with Minnesota's Jimmy Butler saga. As he tries to force a trade from the team, the All-NBA wing has started to sit out games due to "general soreness," a ploy no doubt aimed at protecting his market value and hoping it expedites the Timberwolves' urgency to move him.
As of now, Butler is not sure whether he'll play, which explains the relatively modest line. Though we're not necessarily saying he'll sit, it does seem like he's entered an every-other-game maintenance program. And since he logged 39 minutes in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, it would stand to reason he'll miss Wednesday's dance with the Lakers.
That's cause for you to jump on Los Angeles at a -1. Minnesota hasn't been great with Butler on the floor to begin with, and the team is getting outscored by more than 10 points per 100 possessions when playing without him on the road. This, then, is a game the Lakers should dominate if he doesn't play.
Better still, they have the potential to run away with a victory even if Butler is in the Timberwolves' lineup.
The Pick: Los Angeles Lakers (-1)