June 9, 2023

Western Conference Play-In Preview: Lakers, Timberwolves, Pelicans, Thunder

The 2022-23 NBA standard season has come to a near, and it is time again for the league’s most recent tradition, the perform-in event. This year the Western Meeting experienced the race to view down the stretch as it was tighter than spandex in the wrestling ring. In truth, the west was shut for most of the period, particularly right after the All-Star break, with teams No. 4-10 separated by no more than three to 4 game titles. So, many of these matchups in the West, especially in the engage in-in, should really be tightly contested all the way through.

7 LA Lakers vs. 8 Minnesota Timberwolves

Los Angeles lands the No. 7 seed and performs at dwelling Tuesday night from Minnesota, with the winner shifting on to experience the Memphis Grizzlies in the very first round of the playoffs. Not way too prolonged back, we likely would’ve picked everyone in the top rated 10 out west in excess of the Lakers in a participate in-in-game scenario. But around the earlier two months, with their revamped roster, the Lakers search like a workforce that could make some sounds early in the postseason. Had they been equipped to conquer the Clippers a time or two this calendar year, they’d be in the playoffs currently.

For the Timberwolves, this was intended to be the year they designed that Memphis-like bounce from participate in-in group to playoff contender, but it has but to get the job done out that way. The Rudy Gobert trade hasn’t lived up to what a lot of expected, and with Karl-Anthony Towns suiting up for just 29 games this 12 months, the chemistry is not in which it should be. Gobert and Kyle Anderson displayed that on Sunday during their altercation on the sideline. You shouldn’t hope as well much from the T-Wolves, which usually means the Lakers should advance into the first round on Tuesday.

UPDATE: ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski claimed Monday afternoon that Gobert would not journey with the group to LA for Tuesday’s engage in-in video game, obviously his punishment for throwing a punch at teammate Kyle Anderson on Sunday. So let’s go ahead and double down on that choose for the Lakers to advance as the No. 7 seed.

9 New Orleans Pelicans vs. 10 OKC Thunder

Immediately after a warm start out this period, the Pelicans have finished up where they ordinarily dwell, the reduce half of the Western Convention standings. This workforce seemed legit for the duration of the very first 50 percent of the 22-23 marketing campaign, and much of that was without having Zion Williamson, as he dropped the greater part of an additional calendar year to personal injury, actively playing in considerably less than 30 games for the second time in 4 a long time. But New Orleans held on as prolonged as they could but ultimately fell down the standings and back again into common territory. The play-in match. This crew manufactured it out of the engage in-in last year and even pushed the Phoenix Suns to six games in the to start with spherical right before their demise.

Oklahoma City is in a place couple of envisioned coming into the period. Most folks figured they’d dwell in the dungeon of the Western Convention fighting for a lottery posture in hopes of drafting Victor Wembanyama. But that has not been the situation for the Thunder. Led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who’s experienced a breakout marketing campaign, averaging in excess of 31 points per game, the Thunder managed to obtain themselves in the engage in-in with an option at building the playoffs for the initially time because 2020 in the Orlando bubble. The Pelicans took a few out of 4 from the Thunder throughout the regular time, with that only loss coming in the most new meeting back again in March. It’ll possible be a shut recreation, but New Orleans must be able to earn.