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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Game Preview

Ja Morant and the Grizzlies take on Minnesota for the first time since last seasons playoffs

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Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game Six Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (8-4, 4-1 home) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (5-7, 1-2 away)

WHEN: 8:30 PM CT

WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, TN

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: ESPN/Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis


MEMPHIS: Danny Green (Out, knee), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, foot), Kenneth Lofton Jr. (Out, Two-Way Transfer), Ziaire Williams (Out, Patellar Tendinitis)

MINNESOTA: Luke Garza (Out, Two-Way Transfer), Josh Minott (Out, G League Assignment), Wendell Moore Jr. (Out, G League Assignment), Naz Reid (Out, illness)


MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Santi Aldama, Steven Adams

MINNESOTA: D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert

The Memphis Grizzlies are set to face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves for the first time since their heated first-round matchup in the 2022 NBA Playoffs.

The Timberwolves' roster is a bit different from the team the Grizzlies played in the playoffs last season. Lead instigator Patrick Beverley is in LA, while Malik Beasley and Jared Vanderbilt are in Utah, while Rudy Gobert is now defending the rim for Minnesota. The early returns for Minnesota haven’t been great, as they have stumbled out of the gate and the Gobert/KAT pairing is taking some time to develop that chemistry.

Despite the struggles, a matchup against the team that knocked you out of the playoffs last year should provide the Timberwolves with enough motivation to try and figure things out for tonight’s matchup. Here are some keys to Memphis prevailing against the new-look Wolves.

The Steven Adams Effect

Minnesota Timberwolves v Memphis Grizzlies - Game One Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

One of the major plot points in the first round last season was how Minnesota forced Taylor Jenkins to send Steven Adams to the bench as he struggled to be super effective in the series. Adams tasked with guarding KAT was tough and got him in frequent foul trouble in the series as the Grizzlies preferred to have JJJ hover off Vanderbilt in the corner and protect the rim. With the Rudy Gobert trade, Adams has a much more favorable matchup in the paint. With Gobert in the lineup, it allows Adams to stay in the paint and defend instead of being pushed out to the 3-point line like he was in the playoffs last season. Santi Aldama will have his hands full defending KAT on the perimeter, but he’ll likely have help with the Wolves' lack of spacing with Gobert on the floor.

Both of these teams will be familiar with one another from last season, and how they handle the Steven Adams/Rudy Gobert lineups will be one to watch. I wouldn’t be shocked if Jenkins ultimately chooses to mirror Adams’ minutes with Gobert.

Efficiency from Deep

Memphis Grizzlies v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Cooper Neill/NBAE via Getty Images

The Grizzlies have been letting it fly more frequently this season and have found more success in shooting the ball from beyond the arc. Memphis’ 34.5 three-point attempts per game on 38.6% shooting are highs for the team over the last few seasons.

Against the Timberwolves, the Grizzlies' shooting could prove even more important. The Grizzlies will continue to utilize the Ja Morant & Steven Adams pick-and-roll to try and torture whoever of Gobert or KAT is guarding Adams. With the Timberwolves' size but lack of speed, they’ll likely cheat on defense and have whoever isn’t guarding Adams move over into the paint to protect the rim when Ja attacks. This will leave guys like Santi Aldama and Dillon Brooks open on the perimeter. If those two, and bench guys like John Konchar and Jake LaRavia, can knock down the open looks then it will force the Wolves to leave the paint open a little more which will create more driving lanes for Morant. If they miss those opportunities, it’ll just further muddy the paint and make things more difficult for Morant if the team isn’t making shots.

The Grizzlies will find a way to apply rim pressure, but how they respond to the Wolves' rim defense will be a critical factor in the game.

The Prediction

It’s been a weird start to the season for the Timberwolves. Anthony Edwards’ interest in actually trying is inconsistent on a game-to-game basis. KAT called out Edwards’ diet postgame a few weeks ago and the Wolves look even more immature now than they did last season. Just this past week there was a play where Anthony Edwards doesn’t move for an entire possession that clearly wasn’t designed for him (good defense, Tari Eason!) while D’Angelo Russell just completely forgets to check in and the Wolves play defense down a man and give up a 3-pointer.

The Wolves aren’t an incredibly young team but they play like one. The Grizzlies need to take advantage and jump out to an early lead. The Wolves have shown flashes of being a really good team, and Memphis does not want tonight to be the night they start to figure things out. The matchup loses a little bit of flare with PatBev in LA, but the Forum should still be rocking so the Grizzlies need to take the early momentum and run away with it.

While I don’t expect it to be a blowout, I feel Memphis has the ability to control the game and respond to any runs the Wolves make. In the end, Memphis will pull away in the final quarter.

Memphis 118, Minnesota 105

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