Well, the Wolves weren’t going to win every game after their big roster move, and today was as good a day as any to lose one. The Memphis Grizzlies have used their physicality and defense to wear down the Wolves on the way to a 100-87 final.
It felt like many a Wolves-Grizzlies game of recent years. It was a close, low-scoring first half, with both teams playing good defense. The Grizzlies are one of the best teams in the league at forcing turnovers, and it showed; the Wolves had 11 in the first half and 20 for the game, many coming when they were baited into difficult spots on the dribble, where the Grizzlies pounced.
This was especially a problem for Jeff Teague, who had a nightmare game, scoring two points on 1-9 from the field and turning the ball over three times. He got embarrassed by Mike Conley, who just tortured him into one of his worst performances of the season. Andrew Wiggins also struggled off the dribble, and wound up forcing a lot of shots in a game that just did not open up for him.
The Grizzlies really put the hammer down in the third quarter. The Wolves could not score to start the period, and eventually the Grizzlies found the range, extending a four point halftime lead to double-digits, a death knell against that defense. The Wolves tried to get off the mat in the fourth with Derrick Rose and Dario Saric hitting a few threes, but never could get closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Marc Gasol is not Karl-Anthony Towns’ favorite match-up, a problem exacerbated by the Wolves strange reluctance to get Towns going from the perimeter. Gasol was especially impressive late when the Wolves were trying to get back into the game in the fourth quarter, hitting several killer threes in late shot clock situations that stifled Wolves’ runs. He finished with 26 and 13 on the night, and was a huge factor defensively in the paint as he always is.
Towns himself finished with 15 points and 20 rebounds, and actually was active defensively, but only got 10 shot attempts in 38 minutes, which is simply not acceptable. Some of that is on the scheme, but he also has a responsibility to go find his offense when needed.
Not a ton to love about this one; I thought the Wolves best players tonight were Rose (18 points) and Dario Saric (14.) Saric I think was a bit frustrated at times with the lack of ball movement and sloppiness, but he worked hard and made some shots today. Those two, along with Tyus Jones, who didn’t score but also didn’t turn the ball over and generally got the team into something resembling offensive sets, were the only plus players tonight. The starting lineup was a group catastrophe.
The Grizzlies are good. We’ll just move on.