LA Lakers vs Minnesota Timberwolves (BET and STREAM LIVE on Unibet TV from 02.35 GMT)
All good things must come to an end.
After an astonishing 23 consecutive defeats to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Minnesota Timberwolves will hope for a Hollywood finale on Sunday night when they bid to break the spell.
There looks to be no better opportunity, with Minnesota establishing themselves as a probable playoff side in the Western Conference and the Lakers, although better than expected, doing little to dispel the concept that they are a team on the wane.
Such trading places is best illustrated by the two key positional battles: Steve Nash vs Ricky Rubio at point guard and Pau Gasol vs Kevin Love at power forward.
Rubio has long been anointed as Nash’s heir apparent as the next quick flashy playmaker. The Canadian had to work hard to become a shooting threat, gradually improving each year until his zenith, two years ago in Phoenix, when he shot 53%. This season, that’s down to 27% and although he was rested against New Orleans on Friday, his prime is behind him.
Rubio has always been a terrible shooter, back to his time with FC Barcelona. But he is averaging 7.8 assists and 3.3 steals and his defensive presence is an increasing asset. His speed could force LA to give Nash extra help, opening up room for the likes of Kevin Martin to profit.
In the frontcourt, Gasol is the Lakers leading scorer, a troubling trait when the Spaniard is putting up a career-low 12 ppg. Contrast that with Kevin Love who is grabbing 27.2 points and 14.7 rebounds per night. If he ever features on a championship-calibre team, the Olympic gold medallist is a potential MVP. And on a handicap of -3.5 at 1.87, back the Timberwolves to sink the Lakers at last.
Mired in a 2-3 start, the New York Knicks will count on the belated seasonable debut of JR Smith to spark them into life when they host the San Antonio Spurs.
The troubled swingman, who was serving a suspension for a failed drug test, averaged 18.1 points as a sixth man last term and his return figures to be a huge boost for a Knicks bench which is chipping in just 25 per game, the fourth worst mark in the NBA.
However the Spurs are 5-1 to date, conceding only an average of 93.0, so look for them on a handicap of -2.5 at 1.84 and for the total points to stay under the line of 195, available at 1.91.
Best Bet: Take Minnesota over the LA Lakers on the match handicap of -3.5 at 1.87