The Memphis Grizzlies came into Game 6 looking to close out the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road. They haven’t been in a close-out game before, as this was an opportunity to win their first playoff series.
The Grizzlies had a tall task ahead of them, as the Timberwolves have proven themselves to be a talented team that gives them fits with their tenacity and high-powered offense.
Both squads kicked off the game with a high-powered attack from the 3-point line. Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks led the charge for the Grizzlies there, combining for 23 points and 5 three’s in the first period. The Timberwolves threw punches back from downtown with Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels. Edwards, in particular, was a handful offensively — as he scored 16 first-quarter points. The Grizzlies ended the first quarter down 29-28. Good news though, Jaren Jackson only had 1 foul in the quarter.
The second quarter started with the Timberwolves going with a bit of no-KAT minutes. With that, it led to a Greg Monroe sighting, since Naz Reid was out for personal reasons. The Grizzlies unfortunately couldn’t take advantage of those minutes, as the game remained close. However, Jaren Jackson and Brandon Clarke found their rhythm in the quarter. There was entirely too much Dillon Brooks — but also no other creator showed much willingness to shoot. The half ended with the Grizzlies down 52-49.
The second half started slow for the Grizzlies, as the Timberwolves took a double-digit lead — as much as 13. Ja Morant started to find his groove, after scoring two and-1 layups. That ignited a small run for the Grizzlies to chip the lead down to 4. Dillon Brooks rediscovered his touch in the quarter as well, and that’s a great sign. However, the Timberwolves roared back to get their lead back up to double digits. The Grizzlies ended the quarter down 84-74.
The Grizzlies kicked off the quarter with some 3’s from Tyus Jones and Jaren Jackson Jr. However, the Timberwolves held on with some big offensive punches from Jordan McLaughlin and Jaden McDaniels. The Grizzlies made a run that led to Desmond Bane tying the game at 94 — which prompted Edwards and Brooks to follow up with 3’s of their own. Unfortunately, Brooks fouled out in the 4th quarter. The Grizzlies got some more big shots from Tyus Jones and Desmond Bane. The ultimate icing on the cake was a beautiful pick-and-roll sequence where Ja Morant hit Brandon Clarke off the roll, then the roll man hit Jaren Jackson in the dunker spot for a slam.
The Memphis Grizzlies ultimately held on to with a 114-106 win, en route to the second round.
- Getting Jaren Jackson Jr. down the stretch. Foul trouble plagued Jackson for most of this series. He ended up with 5 fouls tonight, but 2 of them came in the 4th quarter. However, we saw a good showing of why he’s important in these stretches. He allows for defensive versatility to take on perimeter switches. He also hit some timely 3’s, and having big men that stretch the floor is good for the team’s offensive spacing. He also gobbled up rebounds, crashing the glass with ferocity — a career-high 14 rebounds. He’s such an integral part of what this team does, and when he stays on the court, they’re a forced to be reckoned with.
- Brandon Clarke and Desmond Bane stay contributing to winning games in this series. Bane and Clarke were the MVP’s of this series. Bane took advantage of Minnesota’s blitz on Morant to spray 3’s; that continued tonight as he hit 5 of his 9 three-point attempts. Clarke was just a madman on the interior, destroying the Wolves on the offensive glass (5 offensive rebounds) and hitting them with that jab of a floater. Both players were big in the final moments of that game — particularly Bane with his pair of 3’s, and Clarke with his big dime to Jackson to seal the game. These two players deserve their flowers. They were a pivotal part to getting through this series.
- The Grizzlies win their first playoff series in the Nxt-Gen Era. Through the up’s and down’s, the Memphis Grizzlies prevailed to move past the Minnesota Timberwolves to win their first series as a group together. There will be lessons from this — starting better, maintaining consistent urgency level, not falling too far behind, and playing a full 48 minutes. However, they demonstrated an excellent level of resiliency to fight through the next round of the NBA playoffs.
Leaving Minnesota, on to the next round against the Golden State Warriors.