NBA Matchup: Minnesota Timberwolves @ Los Angeles Lakers

Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers Fri. March 18, 2011 10:30 p.m. EST

Ever since the NBA All-Star break, the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers have been the hottest team in the NBA. Not only have these seemingly got that championship swagger back and are confident that they can dominate the competition in the Western Conference once again, but they are really starting to get people talking as this team seems to be headed for yet another three-peat.

Obviously, the NBA playoffs aren’t here yet and there is still about 15 games or so left and the NBA regular season, but if the playoffs were to start today the Los Angeles Lakers would be the second seed in the West and sitting pretty with all the confidence in the world.

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Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Lakers

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Whether or not the two-time defending champions can actually keep up their winning ways in the final stretch of the NBA regular season and into the playoffs remains to be seen, but they should have a relatively easy win on Friday night when the Minnesota Timberwolves travel to the Staples Center in Los Angeles to take on Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.

Even though the Minnesota Timberwolves are still a perennial bottom feeder in the Western Conference, they have seen some light at the end of the tunnel this season with the emergence of arguably the best power forward in the game right now in Kevin Love. This young kid out of UCLA might still be a bit wet behind the ears and could be a couple more years away from just be an unstoppable inside the paint, but right now he’s playing as good as any forward in the game by leading the league in rebounds and also adding 20+ points a game.

With a piece like this in the paint, the Los Angeles Lakers big man like Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and most notably Andrew Bynum will finally get the challenge as few teams around the league of actually been able to contain Kevin Love on the glass this season.

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Obviously, the Lakers do have some advantages in many other positions on the floor like it shooting guard with Kobe Bryant. The one thing that Minnesota might look to take advantage of though is point guard position as Derek Fisher’s play on defense is continually declining. With that being said, the T’Wolves point guards might have a field day as they will be able to blow by Fisher almost all game long.

In my opinion, this game will come down to the play inside paint as well wins the battle of the boards and can dominate the paint will win this basketball game. With Love being as hard as any big man in the league to contain in the paint, the Lakers bigs will have their work cut out for them, but Love is just one man while the Lakers have plenty of bigs that can get the job done.

With a win on Friday night, the Lakers will get one more W in the win column and will come one step closer to clinching a playoff spot and the second seed in the Western Conference.

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