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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Game Preview

The Grizzlies are back “in Minnesota now” for the first time since ending the Wolves season in May

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2022 NBA Playoffs - Grizzlies v Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (12-8, 5-6 road) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (10-11, 5-6 home)

WHEN: 7:00 PM CT

WHERE: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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

INJURY REPORT:

MEMPHIS: Dillon Brooks (Questionable, Right Thigh Soreness), Jake LaRavia (Doubtful, Left Foot Soreness), Desmond Bane (Out, Right Big Toe Sprain), Ziaire Williams (Out, Right Patellar Tendinitis), Danny Green (Out, Left Knee Surgery Recovery)

Minnesota: Jaden McDaniels (Questionable, Illness), Karl Anthony Towns (Out, Right Calf Strain), Taurean Prince (Out, Right Shoulder Subluxation), Jordan McLaughlin (Out, Left Calf Strain)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:

MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, John Konchar, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams

Minnesota: D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Kyle Anderson, Rudy Gobert

The Memphis Grizzlies enter this rivalry matchup looking to extend their current two-game winning streak after victories over the New Orleans Pelicans and New York Knicks over the holiday weekend. On the other side, the Minnesota Timberwolves enter this contest in the opposite direction on a three-game losing streak over the holiday weekend with losses to the Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors, and Washington Wizards, including the latter two losses coming at home.

Also, the Timberwolves lost star big man Karl-Anthony Towns in their recent home loss to the Wizards to a right calf strain. He is expected to miss four-six weeks according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

With the Timberwolves slumping and losing their star player, how can the Grizzlies keep the sky falling in Minnesota?

2022 NBA Playoffs - Minnesota Timberwolves v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Triple Threat

When I say “triple threat” I mean both the 3-point shooting from the Grizzlies and the team leaders Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Dillon Brooks’s continued success coexisting on both ends of the court.

The Grizzlies have struggled from the 3-point line since Desmond Bane has been out due to injury, which he suffered in the previous matchup against the Timberwolves. In their first five games without their 2nd-leading scorer and best shooter, the Grizzlies shot 30% from behind the arc on 33.8 attempts per game that included only making single digits in three of the five games. Of course, the Grizzlies lost four of those five games.

In their current two-game winning streak, the Grizzlies have shot 42.9% from behind the arc on 70 attempts. Needless to say, the Grizzlies will need to continue to connect from behind the arc as they have shot at least 35.9% from 3 in their three wins during this recent stretch without Desmond Bane.

As for the other triple threat, the Grizzlies have faired well with their updated “Big 3” producing at near All-Star levels:

  • Jaren Jackson Jr. has scored at least 20 points in a career-high four consecutive games and has had at least 3 blocks in four of the five games he has played since his return.
  • Dillon Brooks has scored at least 20 points in three of the previous five games and has had at least 4 assists (his preseason goal to average) in each of the past five games.
  • Ja Morant has scored at least 20 points in three of his last four games including three straight double-doubles and a triple-double in their recent matchup against the New York Knicks.

It’s no coincidence that the Grizzlies have won three of the four contests (Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. did not play in the loss to the Nets) that the triple threat has played in.

With Desmond Bane out, the Grizzlies needed Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon Brooks to produce more in the scoring and efficiency department along with their expected contributions on the defensive end and they have not disappointed. Add in Ja Morant’s early return from his ankle injury, and the three players have been a combined +137 when on the court in their last four outings.

Continue this trend and the Grizzlies will have their “Nxt Gen” era version of a Core 4 when Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, and Jaren Jackson Jr. all share the court at the same time in the near future.

The Prediction

The Memphis Grizzlies are clicking right now and are trending up coming off two days’ rest to prepare for a team they will not have any problems getting excited to play against. Couple that with the struggling Timberwolves who are giving up an average of 139.5 points per game to their opposition in their recent two home losses and just lost their star player for at least a month, and I expect the Grizzlies to handle the Timberwolves in their 2nd matchup of this young season.

Memphis 120, Minnesota 107

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