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Preseason Game Preview #2: Wolves vs. Grizzlies

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The Wolves seek revenge in their second to last preseason game.

Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Didn’t you miss that excruciating feeling of anticipation for the next game following a Minnesota Timberwolves loss? Oh that’s a feeling we know all too well. The Wolves will be running it back against the Memphis Grizzlies at Target Center for their 2nd of 3 preseason tune-ups before they start to actually count. After dropping the first match on Saturday 107-105, The Good Guys will look to repay the favor tonight.


Game Info

Who: Memphis Grizzlies (1-0) at Minnesota Timberwolves (0-1)
When: 7:00 pm CST
TV: Fox Sports North (streaming on the Fox Sports Go app)
Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio


What To Watch For

  • How far the Timberwolves go this season starts and ends with Karl-Anthony Towns. KAT was understandably rusty and at times disconnected out there in game 1, but it will be interesting to see if we get the KAT of old, or if he’s still Asleep At The Keyboard. I doubt Towns will be as cold from perimeter again (0 for 5 on Saturday), especially considering the quality of looks he had.
  • The defensive effort, as many expected, was nonexistent. Ja Morant sailed smoothly to a 20 point night on 66% shooting. You’d expect some adjustments by Ryan Saunders David Vanterpool to keep the reigning Rookie of the Year from waltzing into the paint. In the rare occasion that the help defense rotated to contain Morant in the paint, the helper’s help was nowhere to be found, resulting in wide open corner 3’s all night (12). It’s unlikely that a singular player on this roster can stop him therefore it will have to be a complete team effort.
  • Will Coach Saunders give the R² backcourt more run? D’Angelo Russell and Ricky Rubio shared the court together for just 3 minutes, ending with a -4 point differential. However both players mentioned in their postgame pressers that they enjoyed playing together. Our beloved NORDIC Spanish Unicorn didn’t even suit up in the second half due to (perceived) rest so there may be more opportunities tonight. However as a team that rosters just 2 point guards (Light the JMac signal!), it’s possible that Rubio continues to mainly run with a bench unit devoid of any real offensive talent (Light the Nowell signal!).
  • The big rotation will likely be a storyline all season long. In somewhat of a surprise, Jake Layman got the start and did not squander the opportunity, ending the game with a team-high +11 in just 20 minutes, shooting efficiently (2/4 layups, 2/2 treys) while sustaining a solid defensive effort (3 stocks). Meanwhile movie star Juancho Hernangomez, who started the last real NBA game for the Timberwolves, did quite the opposite, looking 2 steps slow out there (2/6 in the paint, 0/4 from perimeter). One of these two will likely be wrestling for that starting power forward spot to begin the season so that will something to keep an eye on.
  • Additionally, the unguaranteed Rondae Hollis-Jefferson played 8 minutes which was more than rookie Jaden McDaniels and 3rd year power forward, Jarred Vanderbilt. If you’re the type to try and read tea leaves, this might seem to indicate that RHJ will make the opening night roster, spelling doom for restricted free agent and MVP candidate Jordan McLaughlin.
  • The #1 overall pick, Anthony Edwards, had an rather uneventful rookie debut much like many his fellow rookie classmen. It has been noted many times this class will likely have a rough adjustment period with such a short turnaround between the draft, training camp, and having no summer league. Remember, it was just 26 days ago that we were envisioning Ben Simmons trade scenarios with the #1 pick. The 19-year-old had to cut his teeth versus a solid defensive team that has continuity both in roster construction and experience (The Grizzlies last played in an elimination game less than 4 months ago). How will he adjust in his second professional opportunity, let alone organized 5-on-5 basketball game, since 9 months ago?
  • We finally get the long anticipated return we’ve all been waiting for, Nasty Naz Reid! Ed Davis was primary sub for KAT in game 1, but it’s unlikely the 11-year journeyman will play much in these preseason games. That means your chants for Nazreon Hilton Reid have been heard as he will likely be unleashed tonight. According to his social media, he has literally lived in the gym all offseason so I can’t wait to see him running with Twolves (and scissors).

Injury Reports

Predictions

  • Ja Morant remembers that Minnesota isn’t worth it and returns to his regular human form, casually posting a 12-5-7 line in just one half of play.
  • Which Grizzly player will have the MPE? Noted Timberwolves slayer, Dillon Brooks, went 2 of 14 Saturday night so he is the obvious candidate to drop 28 points in 20 minutes of action. Instead I’ll go with the second buffest rookie and one of my favorite prospects, Desmond Bane, to get this honor.
  • Juancho Hernangomez gains ground on the starting gig by posting a decent 15-7-2 line on efficient shooting, but more because KAT has a strong game thus beginning a “Towns has better chemistry with Hernangomez” story line that lasts all season.
  • Anthony Edwards gets the Ricky Rubio special and slams home a windmill dunk in transition which highlights a 25-point performance. The majority of his POINTZ come in the 3rd to 4th quarter bridge where the Memphis 2nd/3rd stringers let the Wolves run their lead up to 15 points.
  • While Jaylen Nowell is out fighting crime tonight, the garbage time MVP is time is Patrick Beverly Ashton Hagans. His spicy defensive effort is capped with a mugging of... *checks notes* Ahmad Cavar (?) at halfcourt for a wide open two-handed slam. On the bench, Ed Davis and RHJ topple over the feet of Josh Okogie in celebration.
  • Wolves lose the first half, but win the war by a score of 115-102. Most importantly, we get 2 more beautiful Rubi-OHHHH GIFs to last us a lifetime.