LOS ANGELES - The National Basketball Association has entered its postseason and the Los Angeles Lakers will be given two chances to advance to the official playoffs in the play-in tournament beginning Tuesday night against Minnesota.
If the Lakers come out with a victory Tuesday night, they will get a few days of rest before matching up with Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs starting Sunday, April 16. If things don’t go as hoped, they will face the winner of the Oklahoma City (No. 10 seed) and New Orleans (No.9 seed) matchup for a single-elimination game. If they win the second play-in game (if needed), they will face Denver beginning Saturday, April 15.
Last season, the Lakers failed to qualify for playoff contention and this season, the Lakers had a 27-32 record before the All-Star break. The front office took care of business at the trade deadline and upgraded its roster to better complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Over the weekend, the purple and gold added depth to its postseason roster by signing Tristan Thompson and Shaquille Harrison.
The Lakers are 1-2 against the Timberwolves this season and Tuesday, Minnesota is without at least two of its starters.
NBA Twitter erupted Sunday afternoon when video was posted of Minnesota center Rudy Gobert taking a swing at teammate Kyle Anderson on the bench during the regular-season finale.
Before the altercation, rising star Jaden McDaniels punched a wall on the way to the locker room at halftime.
Minnesota health officials said Monday that McDaniels suffered fractures on his third and fourth metacarpals. Now, the third-year forward is out indefinitely.
Gobert has since publicly apologized for his actions. He was handed a one-game suspension which disqualifies him from competing Tuesday.
An injury report released Monday night lists Karl Anthony-Towns and Jaylen Nowell as questionable.
For the purple and gold, starters Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and D’Angelo Russell are all listed as "probable."
It will be a revenge game of sorts for Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt who get a chance to beat their former team.
"We get to compete against the team that we spent time with and not only being able to advance but knocking them off as well," said Vanderbilt.
Coincidentally, Russell, Beasley, and Vanderbilt were all in the play-in game last season against LA's other team, the Clippers.
During Monday’s practice, head coach Darvin Ham said part of the game plan includes "containing the ball. Really being highly competitive with the ball and not allowing them to take the ball anywhere and everywhere."
Davis added they’ve fought to get to where they are.
"The fact that we’re still here and controlling our own destiny now," said Davis. He added they’re hoping to win tomorrow and have a few days off "but we gotta take care of business first tomorrow."
Tip-off is scheduled at 7 p.m. at the Crypto.com Arena.