WHEN: 7:00 PM CST
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, TN
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/NBA League Pass/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Grayson Allen (left hip soreness, Questionable), Jaren Jackson Jr. (left knee, Out), Justise Winslow (right thigh soreness, Out)
MINNESOTA: Josh Okogie (Health & Safety Protocols, Questionable), D’Angelo Russell (Left Knee Surgery, Out)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jonas Valanciunas
MINNESOTA: Ricky Rubio, Malik Beasley, Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Karl Anthony-Towns
The Memphis Grizzlies need this one.
The month of April is going to be one that will test Taylor Jenkins and his young Grizzlies squad as they will play sixteen straight games against teams in playoff contention. That is why it is imperative that they win this contest against Anthony Edwards and a young Minnesota Timberwolves squad. Although the Timberwolves find themselves at the bottom of the West, they have garnered a competitive spirit of late led by the infectious energy of their young rookie. With that level of energy on the horizon, it is key for Memphis to not overlook the Wolves but to be assertive early and often and win the games they should with the battles they have ahead of them the rest of the month.
The Memphis Grizzlies handled business in their last matchup against the Timberwolves as the Morant-less Grizzlies were able to get a double digit victory in the twin cities back in January right before the wheels fell off and the Grizzlies were parked for COVID-19 reasons.
The Minnesota Timberwolves combination of Anthony Edwards, Karl Anthony-Towns, Malik Beasley, & Jaden McDaniels has helped push playoff teams to the brink lately but, with the last outing against Minnesota as the back drop, the Grizzlies have a simple plan to get a win against the Timberwolves.
Karl Anthony-Towns is a great player. That is to be understood. That being said, Jonas Valanciunas has his number every time out against the former Kentucky big man. Valanciunas is bigger and stronger than Towns and when the two match up Valanciunas takes full advantage of it, bullying Towns as he fights for position on the low block on the offensive side of the floor. In their January bout, Valanciunas was once again a walking double-double as he put a 24 point, 16 rebound stat line leading the Grizzlies to a win. While Valanciunas is a disadvantage defensively against Towns the farther he gets from the paint, Valanciunas should be a focal point of the offensive game plan as the Grizzlies play some old fashioned bully ball down low against a Timberwolves team that ranks 28th in points in the paint allowed.
Let 12 Shine
After two stellar outings against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the preseason, Ja Morant missed the Grizzlies January contest due to his ankle injury a week prior. This won’t be the case tonight as the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year will finally see Minnesota in a game where the stats count.
This should be a game that when opportunity presents itself the Grizzlies should simply let Ja Morant cook. The Timberwolves have a new man in the head seat from the last time Morant faced the Wolves in Chris Finch which could lead to different decisions being made as far as coverages thrown at him. This shouldn’t deter Morant from being aggressive early against the 27th ranked defense in the NBA. Ricky Rubio is by no means a lock down defender and that could be said about nearly anyone that Minnesota could throw at him.
Tonight is a night for Ja Morant to show just how special he is and take advantage of a weak defensive team. Get your Jaggles ready.
The result of this game will come down to the Grizzlies mindset when they come to FedExForum Friday night. The Minnesota Timberwolves are fresh off of pushing the Brooklyn Nets to the brink and beating the sixth seeded New York Knicks and are playing their best basketball of the season thus far. Rookie of the Year front runner Anthony Edwards and fellow rookie Jaden McDaniels are starting to figure out how to play at the NBA level. Karl Anthony-Towns is averaging 27 points and 11 rebounds over the last ten games as the Timberwolves seemingly are starting to enjoy playing basketball again. The key will be the Grizzlies not allowing Timberwolves to come into the Forum and put their feet on the Grizzlies couch and get comfortable. Dillon Brooks vs. Anthony Edwards and KAT vs. Jonas Valanciunas will be the matchups to watch but I have a hard time seeing the Grizzlies dropping this one at home.
FINAL SCORE: Grizzlies 120, Timberwolves 100