The Los Angeles Clippers will travel to Minneapolis to play the Minnesota Timberwolves in the preliminary round of the Western Conference playoffs Tuesday night. The winner of this contest will set itself up for a series with the #2 seed Memphis Grizzlies. Whoever falls short will get the winner of the other play-in contest – between San Antonio and New Orleans – and fight for a date with top-seeded Phoenix.
In early January, Minnesota earned a win on the road the last time these teams last crossed paths. Worth mentioning, L.A. was without Paul George, who just recently returned to the lineup after being shelved for three months with a torn ligament in his right shooting elbow.
The Clippers won the teams’ three meetings before then, which all came during a ten-day stretch in November. The first two were part of what was a season-long L.A. win streak.
Have the Clippers’ Main Contributors Had Enough Time to Gel?
Ty Lue’s crew went on a tear to close out their regular season schedule, winning five in a row and six of their last seven. Over that time, they scored 153 points in a win at Milwaukee and 138 against Oklahoma City in a 50-point victory their last time out.
George leads the L.A. charge with 24.3 points per game. His production has virtually picked up where he left off since he’s healed, as he’s been good for 22.6 points and 6.8 assists an outing.
Shooting-wise, some of George’s best performances this season have come against the Timberwolves. He shot over 58% from the field on four occasions, two of them coming against Minnesota.
Norman Powell came over from Portland as part of a trade in February and added a contributing scoring punch before dealing with a nagging injury of his own. Reggie Jackson (16.8 points per game) and Marcus Morris (15.4) have been the most consistent scorers.
Can the Timberwolves Keep Up the Offensive Success?
Minnesota arrives after weathering five and six-game losing skids before the All-Star break. The Timberwolves averaged 128 points over its last five regular-season outings. The large numbers haven’t been an exception, though.
Its high-scoring offense benefits from accurate shooting behind the arc, ranking first in the league in both points per game (115.9) and three-pointers per game (14.8). Both Karl-Anthony Towns and Malik Beasley bucket an average of three treys a contest.
Towns has poured in 24.6 points per game, while Anthony Edwards chipped in with 21.3. Alongside the one-two punch, D’Angelo Russell has also put up solid outputs.
Why Minnesota Will Slow L.A.
The moneyline touts Minnesota as the favorites at -150 against L.A.’s +130 slate. Choose the host Timberwolves, who sport a 26-15 record at the Target Center.
Neither George nor Powell have played more than five games since getting back, so with its offensive cohesion, Minnesota should be able to cover the spread at -3.
The over/under is 230.5. The over has hit by at least ten points in three of the teams’ four clashes this campaign, but none of them were set this high. It’s a safer bet to wager on the under.