WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/NBA League Pass/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: John Konchar (Questionable, ankle), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, knee), Ja Morant (Out, ankle), Jontay Porter (Out, knee), Killian Tillie (Out, hamstring), Justise Winslow (Out, hip)
MINNESOTA: Josh Okogie (Questionable, hamstring), Karl-Anthony Towns (Questionable, wrist)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Tyus Jones, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Brandon Clarke, Jonas Valanciunas
MINNESOTA: D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarret Culver, Juancho Hernangomez, Karl-Anthony Towns
The Grizzlies will face off against the Timberwolves in Minnesota for the 3rd time in just 31 days. This matchup will certainly be different than the first two, with it being the first regular season matchup of the year between these two squads. The Grizzlies will enter tonight’s matchup on a 2-game winning streak, their longest on the season. Meanwhile the Timberwolves just snapped a 7-game losing streak after defeating the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night.
Although he’s listed as questionable, Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said that the plan is for KAT to play tonight against the Grizzlies according to The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski. The Timberwolves are a different team with KAT in the lineup, as he’s one of the best all-around big men in the game. Facing off against a mostly healthy Timberwolves squad, tonight’s matchup will likely be more difficult than the two preseason wins.
Here’s a quick look at what the Grizzlies need to do to secure a win and extend their winning streak to 3 games.
Point Guard Minutes
With Ja Morant out with an ankle injury, the Grizzlies have had some struggles at the point guard spot. Not necessarily with Tyus Jones, who has played well and gotten into a rhythm as the teams starting point guard with Ja out. Kyle Anderson has also been a solid point-forward for the Grizzlies as the de-facto backup point guard when Tyus goes to the bench. The Grizzlies struggles have been in the minutes when both Tyus and Kyle are on the bench. None of De’Anthony Melton, Dillon Brooks or Grayson Allen are point guards and the offense tends to stall when they are the primary ball handlers and facilitators.
Newcomer Tim Frazier has been a decent addition in the rotation the last 2 games for the Grizzlies, averaging a little over 10 minutes per game in the winning streak. If the Grizzlies stick with Tyus, Anderson and Frazier as the main point guards, they should be able to keep up on offense with the Timberwolves. However, should Jenkins choose to rely on the trio of Melton/Brooks/Allen to handle point guard duties, the offense could get ugly.
The Grizzlies are one of the best teams in the NBA at deflecting the ball. These deflections have helped them rack up nearly 10 steals a game. These steals have allowed the Grizzlies to run out on the break and average nearly 16 fast break points a game. The Grizzlies are also 4th in the NBA in points off turnovers, showing how well they capitalize when they steal the ball. The deflections aren’t just a major piece of the Grizzlies defensive strategy, either. The length of guys like Kyle Anderson and De’Anthony Melton, along with the energy from guys like Dillon Brooks and John Konchar, allow the Grizzlies to deflect and tip away what would normally be easy rebounds for the opposing teams.
Sometimes these deflections give the Grizzlies extra possessions on the offensive end, which they typically put to good use as they are 3rd in the NBA averaging nearly 15 second chance points per game. Naturally, having a guy like Jonas Valanciunas down low gobbling offensive rebounds helps out that stat as well.
The Timberwolves are going to be a better team tonight than what we’ve seen most of the season, assuming KAT is healthy enough to play. The Timberwolves have a pretty atrocious defense, but the Grizzlies will need to capitalize and score on easy looks. They simply can’t allow their offense to stall out in what will likely be a high-scoring game.
Ultimately, even with KAT back and D’Angelo Russell playing well to start the season, the Grizzlies have enough talent to steal another win in Minnesota even without Ja, Justise and Jaren. It’ll be a high scoring game, but one that the Grizzlies should come out on top in.
Memphis 120 Minnesota 113