It’s playoff basketball!
The Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves kick off game 1 of their 7-game series today. It surely should be a blast, as it features two young teams on the cusp of doing something great right now — and potentially down the road as well. There are a lot of fascinating talents in this one, two of those being the charismatic Ja Morant and Anthony Edwards.
To get us ready for this matchup, I talk with Logan Alten of SB Nation’s Canis Hoopus Timberwolves website to talk about Memphis and Minnesota.
1) What’s the one thing you’re looking forward to the most in this Grizzlies/Timberwolves series?
I honestly don’t know if there is just one thing. These are two of the most fun and dynamic young teams in the league. Their explosive young stars, Anthony Edwards and Ja Morant will steal the show and leave us all in awe. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Karl-Anthony Towns will do fantastic things supporting them. Tyus Jones and Jordan McLaughlin will be the matchup that warms the hearts of all Wolves fans. I’m honestly just stoked that these two teams are playing and can hopefully start a really exciting rivalry.
2) Who’s the Timberwolves biggest x-factor?
This may be a tie. On one hand there’s Jarred Vanderbilt. He’s been one of the best stories of the season for the Timberwolves, and the league in general. He’s the backbone to the team’s defense. However, on offense he can attribute to a big issue. If you watched the LA Clippers vs Wolves game, you would’ve seen Ivica Zubac guarding Vanderbilt and their power forward guard Karl-Anthony Towns. This led to Vanderbilt being ignored on offense and KAT drawing double teams almost every time he touched the ball. The Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch needs to find a way to gainfully employ Vanderbilt on offense and mitigate this tactic as much as possible.
The other x-factor is, and this may sound totally crazy, Karl-Anthony Towns. The Clippers game was a good way of showing how the season can go for Towns in important moments. Unfortunately, Towns is prone to fouls and the refs, for whichever reason, are very whistle happy against him. When that happens, it effects everyone on the team, but most specifically KAT himself. He becomes a little removed from the game and it gets increasingly hard for the team to win. If the Wolves want to have any hopes of beating Memphis they’ll need Towns to stay on the floor and dominate.
3) If the Timberwolves have success in this series, what happened?
Karl-Anthony Towns reminds the entire league why he belongs in the Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid conversation instead of the Rudy Gobert and Bam Adebayo one. The Grizzlies are a fantastic matchup for him, and he needs to take advantage of it. On top of KAT dominating, they’ll need one of D’Angelo Russell or Anthony Edwards to keep pace with Ja Morant’s scoring output. It’s a tall task, but Ant just showed that he’s up for that task.
4) If the Timberwolves have struggles in this series, what happened?
They get Ed Malloy for every game of the series. Okay, that one was just for the Wolves fans reading this. The real answer would be that the inconsistencies show up. This team has been having Jekyll and Hyde performances all season. They’ll go from elite on defense, to average, and then to bad, just to repeat. They’ll do the same thing on offense too. Then they’ll have players look like they don’t belong in the rotation just to shoot over 40% over a month or so and then be a coin flip of who you’ll get each night. Well, that and Dillon Brooks doing that Dillon Brooks thing where he becomes an All-Star whenever he plays Minnesota.
5) Series prediction
Timberwolves in a brutal six game series. I am really excited for this series and wouldn’t be shocked to see it go either way. Watching how the Wolves played against Memphis in the regular season though, a lot of us Wolves fans have a lot of confidence that they can steal this one from Memphis.