Postseason basketball is here. The NBA’s 7th and 8th seeds in each conference our matching up, as teams look to officially clinch playoff spots. We’ll be keying in on a former all-star for one of our favorite NBA props for Tuesday night’s play-in games.
In the Western Conference, the 7th-seeded Los Angeles Lakers are hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves — tipoff is at 10:00 ET. This will be the second play-in tournament appearance in three years for LeBron James and company. After a disgraceful start to the year, the Lakers revamped their supporting cast and are entering tonight’s action as 8.5-point favorites.
D’Angelo Russell was the biggest trade deadline acquisition for the Lakeshow. He’s been a necessary floor-spacer for Los Angeles’ offense over the last two months. But, he may not see enough usage to warrant a high scoring over/under this evening.
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NBA Props for Tuesday (4/11)
D’Angelo Russell Under 18.5 Points (-120 @ BetMGM)
D’Angelo Russell has remained under this line in 8 of his last 10 games. He has averaged just 16.4 points per game during this recent stretch and doesn’t have a friendly matchup in front of him tonight.
DLo scored just 12 points in 34 minutes against Minnesota last week. Even if he had shot three of four from deep in this game, he would have landed on just 18 points. This matchup sets up much better for teammates Anthony Davis and LeBron James, who can be expected to carry the offense with their season on the line.
That March 31st matchup with the T-Wolves was one of just six full games Russell has played alongside LeBron and AD. Spoiler alert: he hasn’t seen a ton of scoring volume in these games.
LAL’s Distant 3rd Option
The former Timberwolves guard is a perfect offensive fit next to the Lakers’ superstar duo. However, this is largely due to his spot-up shooting, ability to play off-ball, and playmaking. Russell can be an isolation scorer, but he’s not consistent when in too large of a role. He’s found his sweet spot with the Lakers thus far.
Nine Lakers have played more than 15 minutes per game in the eight contests with LeBron, AD, and DLo all in the lineup. Russell’s 20.3 USG% in these games is a noticeable drop-off from his 25.1 USG% and 22.7 USG% in the last two seasons.
DLo has played six full games alongside LeBron and Davis. This under cashed in four of these games. And, he didn’t attempt more than 14 shots in any of these games. In total, he posted averages of 17.7 points and 12.7 FGA per game.
Russell’s unlikely to see a high enough usage rate to take more than 12 or 13 shots in this one. In addition to the team’s top duo, Austin Reaves has been a hyper-efficient scorer since entering the starting lineup.
Reaves is averaging 17.7 PPG in six starts alongside LeBron, AD, and Russell on ridiculously high 62.3% shooting from the field. He should be in line for an increased role and is a legitimate threat to take shots away from Russell.
I already mentioned DLo’s 12-point performance against the Wolves last week. Anthony Davis finished with a monster 38-point, 17-rebound performance, while LeBron shot just 7-of-19 and was blanketed by Wolves forward Jaden McDaniels.
Fortunately for the Lakers, McDaniels and his teammate Rudy Gobert are both inactive tonight. McDaniels fractured his hand by punching a wall, while Gobert was Sunday’s biggest NBA storyline after punching Kyle Anderson, earning himself a one-game suspension. Without the defensive duo of Gobert and McDaniels, the Wolves are now missing their best options to throw at both LeBron and Davis.
Additionally, Minnesota concedes the 10th fewest three-point attempts to its opponents. With advantageous matchups for the Lakers’ superstars and limited volume ahead for Russell, a 20-point performance will be tough to come by.
With the Lakers’ season on the line, look for LeBron James and Anthony Davis to control more possessions than they would in an ordinary matchup. Without a ton of scoring volume available for D’Angelo Russell, it will be difficult for him to truly get going against his former team.
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