WHAT: 2022 NBA Playoffs - Western Conference 1st Round Game Three (Series tied 1-1)
WHEN: 6:30 PM CT
WHERE: Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: TNT/Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
BETTING INFORMATION (per DraftKings): Memphis (-1.5), Over/Under 236.5 —
MEMPHIS: Santi Aldama (Questionable, knee), Killian Tillie (Out, back)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
MINNESOTA: Patrick Beverley, D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, Jarred Vanderbilt, Karl-Anthony Towns
When Ja Morant posted the Michael Jordan video from the Last Dance in which he waxed poetically about how an inferior team loves to start talking whenever they win a playoff game, most felt pretty confident that the Grizzlies would come out inspired after a disappointing game one loss. That suspicion turned out to be correct, as the Grizzlies dominated the Wolves 124-96 to even the series 1-1.
Now, however, the series shifts to Minnesota in front of what’s sure to be a raucous crowd at the Target Center. The Grizzlies will definitely need to be at their best to wrestle back control of the series.
Here’s a few keys for how they can do that:
Flip the SWITCH
With Steven Adams likely out of the rotation for the rest of this series, the Grizzlies will continue to have the right personnel on the court to switch absolutely everything on defense. They did that throughout the majority of game 2, and the results speak for themselves: They held the Wolves to one of their 10 lowest scoring outputs of the season and held them to 39% shooting—and 35% shooting on switches.
With as many talented tough shot-makers as the Wolves have, they like to thrive in isolation (5th most isolation attempts in the league) while hunting mismatches. But they will have much more difficulty in doing that while the Grizzlies are able to employ lineups that can switch everything and compete well in one-on-one situations.
Even better, the Wolves seem to lack the personnel to counter this scheme, since they really don’t have meaningful size that they can play next to Karl-Anthony Towns to punish the Grizzlies for playing smaller.
Deeper analysis of this trend can be found in my column for today, so be sure to check that out.
Let it fly
An encouraging fact going forward for the Grizzlies in this series is that they still haven’t even had an average shooting night yet. They shot 35% from three on the season, and even in Memphis’ blowout game 2 win, they only shot 32% from three and made just a hair under their season average for makes.
To be sure, they’re due for a prolific shooting night. Desmond Bane has only made four threes through two games, and De’Anthony Melton has only made two. It sure seems like someone is about to break out, especially considering how much defensive attention Ja Morant is attracting in the paint.
The Wolves will likely shoot well at home, so the Grizzlies need to keep up with them in that regard.
Dominate the Glass
The biggest reason that the Wolves wanted to play Steven Adams off the court in this series is so they could mitigate Memphis’ rebounding advantage. Yet the Grizzlies still managed to out-rebound them 48-40 in game 2 with Adams only playing three minutes.
If the Grizzlies are able to comfortably win the rebounding battle, their other areas of strength should ensure that they win the game.