WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/NBA League Pass/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Jaren Jackson (Out, Injury Management)
MINNESOTA: Malik Beasley (Out, Hamstring), Jarrett Culver (Out, Ankle)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jonas Valanciunas
MINNESOTA: Ricky Rubio, Anthony Edwards, Josh Okogie, Jaden McDaniels, Karl-Anthony Towns
It’s no secret right now, the Memphis Grizzlies are struggling. And it’s not just one thing, even if a lot of people want to blame it on Justise Winslow. I think a lot of it has to do with Coach Taylor Jenkins tinkering with lineups, whether it’s trying to integrate Jaren into the lineup, or shorten them up as the Grizzlies approach the playoffs. Another factor is fatigue, as the Grizzlies have been playing a lot of games in a short time span; since the All-Star break, they haven’t had more than a day off between games.
One thing is for sure though - if they want to be in the postseason, they need to take advantage of the soft schedule over the next couple of games. Despite losing to the Knicks on Monday, it was good to see Desmond Bane break out of his six-game slump. The Grizz are going to need more of that down the stretch.
On tap, the Minnesota Timberwolves. While they are eliminated from playoff contention, they have been playing some pretty decent ball. In the last ten days, they have beaten the Jazz and the Warriors, and they also took the Pelicans to overtime. If the Grizzlies don’t figure it out, they could find themselves as prey to the Wolves, who are trying to close out the season on a high note.
Here are a few keys for the Grizzlies to beat the Timberwolves.
Find Your Rhythm
The Grizzlies’ wings have been downright dreadful the last 8 games, save for Bane on Monday, and Dillon Brooks for the most part. Here are the field goal shooting percentages – Brooks (43%), Bane (43% — made as many FGs on Monday as he had in the previous 4 games combined), Allen (27% — missed 2 games), and Melton (27%).
This is something that not only needs to get fixed to beat Minnesota, but if the Grizzlies want to keep playing past the regular season. A good amount of the misses are jumpers, and against Minnesota, that could come back and cost you. Missed jumpers sometimes result in long rebounds, and Minnesota will play Rubio, Edwards, and D’Angelo Russell together at times, and they will get out and run if given the chance.
As we have seen with the Grizz, they are a lot better when everyone eats. It starts with the wings knocking down shots, then that opens up the lanes for Ja to get to the bucket, and Jonas can battle one-on-one down low for offensive boards.
Keep Your Cool
The frustration of dropping four of their last five boiled over on Monday as we saw both Ja Morant and Taylor Jenkins get tossed in a tight game against the Knicks. Sure, they had reasonable gripes, but Coach Jenkins has kept his composure in tense moments all season long. Very rarely does he lose his cool, even if Grizzlies fans would sometimes like to see more fire from the coach.
Ja on the other hand can sometimes get inside his own head and his game will show. It usually happens when he’s not getting the foul calls. That can’t happen. Ja’s game is still maturing, and so is he. At times, he’s has shown flashes of being wise beyond his years. The Grizz need more of that Ja to show up.
Keep the role players from feasting
The Grizzlies have already beat the Timberwolves twice this season. In both wins, only 3 Minnesota players scored in double digits. And this is a healthier and better T-Wolves team than the ones they claimed a victory over earlier on in the season. Anthony Edwards was coming off the bench in the first matchup, while D’Angelo Russell didn’t play in the second head-to-head.
Karl-Anthony Towns is going to get his, that’s not a question. Chances are, Edwards and Russell are going to pour in around 20 or so points as well. What the Grizzlies cannot do, is let Josh Okogie or Naz Reid get going too.
If you look at both teams at face value, you might think this is an easy ‘W’ for the Grizzlies. It’s anything but that, because the Timberwolves are playing with nothing to lose, as they are already out of the playoffs.
In saying that, I think this is a get right spot for the Grizzlies, especially after how that Knicks game ended. I actually think it could be good for the wings that Jaren is sitting, because it frees up more shots for them to get back on track.
The Grizzlies will avoid falling to below .500 for the first time since March 20th.
Final: Grizzlies 129, Minnesota 114