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Wolves vs Grizzlies: Attacking the Grit-and-Grind

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Minnesota welcomes the Grizzlies to the Target Center in this beautiful weather

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Wolves (24-26) vs Grizzlies (20-31)

7:00 pm CST
FS North

After two straight losses to the Utah Jazz, the Timberwolves look to get back on track tonight against Memphis.

Memphis began the season hot, leading the Western Conference at one point. It’s all gone downhill since then, and they now have made pretty much everyone not named Jaren Jackson Jr. available in trade talks.

The obvious big names there are Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, but as long as they’re still on the Grizzlies they’re going to be a problem for the Wolves.

In particular, Marc Gasol is a problem for the Wolves because of how good he is defensively. For a variety of reasons, Gasol defends KAT better than nearly anyone in the NBA.

With all of the regular point guards banged up, much of the Wolves offense has come from throwing the ball to KAT and either letting him score or pass out of a double team. Against Gasol, this doesn’t work as well.

Marc Gasol is incredibly strong, and it’s nearly impossible to score efficiently against him in the post. Because of this, the Grizzlies won’t have to send any double teams to defend Towns. That puts a lot more pressure on a guy like Andrew Wiggins to create for the offense.

This is not to say that Towns can’t have a solid game, but Ryan Saunders will have to be more creative with how he gets KAT the ball. Simply dumping the ball into Towns in a post up is not going to be an effective strategy. KAT needs to get the ball on the move and on the perimeter to negate how effective Gasol is in the post. If Minnesota tries to run their offense the way they normally do, Towns will be out of the game early due to foul trouble. He’ll commit offensive fouls trying to establish post position, and that doesn’t do anybody any good.

We mentioned it briefly earlier, but a large part of the playmaking responsibilities will go to Andrew Wiggins tonight. The Grizzlies are a good defensive team all around, but Wiggins is far superior to any of their wing defenders athletically. He needs to be aggressive and attack the rim to open up the floor for everyone else. Ideally, Minnesota would run a lot of KAT/Wiggins pick-and-pop to maximize their spacing.

The player to really watch for Memphis tonight is Jaren Jackson Jr. He’s flashed tremendous amounts of versatility, and is going to be Memphis’ most important player moving forward. Memphis probably doesn’t use him as much as they should, but he’s an absolute freak. Keep your eye on him tonight.

Also, Mike Conley is awesome. Do the right thing, Memphis. Trade that man to a contender yesterday. If you have time, here’s a great read from our blogging buddies over at Grizzly Bear Blues on the Grit-and-Grind era.

Bet of the night

I’m in no way saying that you SHOULD make these bets. I’m not betting them. It’s just a fun extra thing that I’ll be tracking for the remainder of the season. All lines via Bovada.

So, we fell to 1-3 on the year on Sunday. It turns out that gambling is hard. Anyways, we’re going to keep on keeping on (yes, I’m a millennial) and try to get back on track. If you really wanted to make some money, maybe you should just fade whatever pick I make. That might be an effective strategy.

The pick: Over 208 total points (-115)

Even though the Grizzlies are stout defensively, this feels really, really low. The Wolves are coming off two days rest, and I expect them to put up some points tonight. Additionally, the only time the over has not hit since Ryan Saunders took over was this past Friday in Utah. I’m equally confident in both the Timberwolves ability to score points and their ability to give up points. The Wolves seem like they’ve never defended a pick-and-roll before and they are intent on allowing as many corner threes as possible.

This has nothing to do with the Wolves, but the Kings are currently only 5 point favorites at home against the Hawks tonight. That doesn’t seem right.

Projected Lineups

Wolves

Jerryd Bayless

Josh Okogie

Andrew Wiggins

Taj Gibson

Karl-Anthony Towns

Grizzlies

Mike Conley

Justin Holiday

Kyle Anderson

Jaren Jackson Jr.

Marc Gasol