WHEN: 7:0O PM CT
WHERE: Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Dillon Brooks (Doubtful, hamstring), De’Anthony Melton (Out, Groin), Sam Merrill (Out, ankle)
MINNESOTA: Josh Okogie (Questionable, back), Naz Reid (Questionable, foot), McKinley Wright IV (Out, G League Two-Way Assignment)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
Memphis: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
Minnesota: Patrick Beverley, D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, Jarred Vanderbilt, Karl-Anthony Towns
The Memphis Grizzlies look to continue their winning ways against an exciting but inconsistent Timberwolves squad. The Grizzlies are looking to extend their winning streak to 3 games, to help balance out their 3 game losing streak of last week. The Timberwolves come in on a 2 game winning streak as well after defeating the Spurs and Kings in their last 2 matchups. The Grizzlies are looking to get some positive momentum on the road, where they’ve mostly struggled this season.
The last matchup between these two teams was one of the crazier games of the season so far. The Grizzlies came back from down 16 points in the 4th quarter to take a late lead on the Timberwolves, just for Karl-Anthony Towns to hit a near half court heave at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. The Grizzlies were able to dominate the overtime period, thanks to some big baskets by Brandon Clarke (who subbed in for JJJ who fouled out in the extra time.)
Here’s what the Grizzlies need to key in on to avoid another crazy close contest.
Make the other guys beat you
In the Grizzlies first matchup against the Timberwolves, the Wolves big 3 of KAT, D-Lo and Anthony Edwards combined for 82 of the teams 118 points. All 3 were great offensively but the key damage came from beyond the arc where the trio made 13 of the teams 17 3-point makes. With both Brooks and Melton potentially out, it’ll be interesting to see how the Grizzlies defend against D-Lo and Ant. Meanwhile, I would suspect that JJJ spends some extra time at the 5 with the KAT matchup. KAT is going to get his, but JJJ actually did a pretty solid job defensively on KAT in the previous matchup before fouling out.
The Wolves have some solid guys in Malik Beasley, Naz Reid, and Jaden McDaniels, but none of them really have proven to be consistent offensive threats this season. Forcing those guys out of their comfort zone and into a larger role offensively would certainly benefit the Grizzlies if it means that KAT, D-Lo and Ant are struggling.
A Strong 1st Quarter
A common theme in Grizzlies losses is a poor 1st quarter. They have led after the 1st quarter in just 2 of their 7 losses, with most of those games being down by double-digits at the end of the first. In their last 2 wins, the Grizzlies were up 6 points against the Clippers and 13 against the Rockets. The early leads allowed the Grizzlies to dictate the pace and flow of the game. More importantly, against a young team like the Timberwolves jumping out to an early lead could cause them to force things offensively and play frustrated and without confidence. The Timberwolves are a better team than the Rockets, but we saw earlier this week what can happen to young teams if you shut them down and jump on them early.
Taking it to the Wolves in the opening frame will likely allow the Grizzlies to carry the momentum with them most of the night, like they did on Thursday against the Clippers. However, let the Timberwolves build their confidence and we could see a game like the last matchup with D-Lo and Edwards going off for high scoring numbers.
It took a few games, but the Grizzlies look really comfortable now with Dillon Brooks back in the lineup. His presence has helped shore up some of the defensive issues the team had been having, while the 3-point shooting has improved after an incredibly poor few game stretch.
Both teams have played good basketball this week, but the Grizzlies have a more reliable track record and I expect that to help carry them in this one. Slowing down the Wolves Big 3 will be a tough task for the Memphis defense but Memphis actually matches up pretty well against Minnesota. Ultimately, I expect the Grizzlies to jump out to a slight lead but won’t be able to put the Timberwolves away until late in the 4th.
Grizzlies 115, Timberwolves 107