WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Dillon Brooks (Out, Toe); Kyle Anderson (Out, shoulder); Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, Quad); C.J. Miles (Out, Foot); Avery Bradley (Out, Shin); Mike Conley (Questionable, rest); Joakim Noah (Questionable, Knee)
MINNESOTA- Robert Covington (Out, Knee); Jeff Teague (Out, Foot); Derrick Rose (Out, Elbow); Luol Deng (Out, Achilles); Taj Gibson (Questionable, Calf)
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Tyler Dorsey, Justin Holiday, Bruno Caboclo, Jonas Valanciunas
MINNESOTA- Tyus Jones, Josh Okogie, Andrew Wiggins, Dario Saric, Karl-Anthony Towns
Coming off a tough overtime loss in Orlando, the Grizzlies quickly come back home to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves. It will be a difficult turnaround as the team jumped straight on a flight after the loss last night to head back to Memphis. They will have to forget about the game before and come out with new life in front of the Forum crowd.
The first thing that stands out is how the minutes will be distributed tonight. There was a large chunk of players who did not play in last night’s game for different reasons that all come back to wanting rest for tonight’s game. Tyler Dorsey is coming off his career high scoring night, so they may be able to ride his hot hand once again. Hopefully, Mike Conley will be able to be inserted back into the lineup.
For these two teams, this will be the last contest of their season series. The Grizzlies are 2-1 to this point against the Wolves this season. The last match-up was in early February when the Grizzlies went scoreless from the 3:20 mark giving up a nine-point lead until Justin Holiday was fouled with 0.1 seconds left and put the game away with a pair of made free throws.
The Grizzlies will look to have a better performance than the close of that game, but however they can get the win will be first on their minds. The Wolves will have a young lineup out there as they recently ended the season of Derrick Rose, Robert Covington, and Jeff Teague.
Here are few things to watch in tonight’s contest:
Who should actually want to win this game?
The Timberwolves are currently riding a five-game losing streak and are trying to supplant themselves right into the tanking conversation. They are 9.5 games back of the 8-seed in the Western Conference. Realistically, they need to be losing games instead of winning games. If they can jump a few teams, they can have a real shot at tanking into solid top-4 odds.
You know who isn’t trying to lose games? The Memphis Grizzlies. They had a heartbreaking loss last night that could have gotten them out of the worst-8, which is the ultimate goal of this season.
So, for tonight’s game, the Grizzlies should be wanting to win, and the Wolves should be wanting to lose. Let’s just call it a night and save some time for everyone.
One major roadblock of that idea of Minnesota easily handing over a win is their All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns. He has been one of the most overlooked players in the NBA this season because of how unsuccessful the season has been for the Timberwolves. He is averaging 22.2 points and 11.8 rebounds per game this season. Against the Grizzlies, he has been a dominant force destroying them on the boards. Over those three games this season, he is averaging 19.0 points and 16(!) rebounds per game.
However, this could be changed in tonight’s game though. KAT has never faced off against these new look Grizzlies before. Valanciunas may be the big bruiser to negates Towns’ impact on this game. Looking back at the Timberwolves one match-up against the Toronto Raptors in October, Towns only ended with 14 points and 8 rebounds over 35 minutes. Maybe this could be a positive sign for limiting Towns tonight.
I like Memphis in this one. I think that having some guys who didn’t play last night ready will make a huge impact in this one. The Minnesota backcourt is nothing for Conley to worry about, and he will have his way with them. Towns will try and take this game over, but I really believe Valanciunas is the type of center who can limit his production. This should be a low score slug fest that the Grizzlies come out on top.
Whatever the spread comes out as, I would take the Grizzlies minus the points in this contest. It can’t be overstated that the Timberwolves have nothing to play for, and the Grizzlies are trying their hardest to win games. As sometimes it still is hard, the Grizzlies should be able to pull out the win tonight.
Memphis- 105, Minnesota- 98