The last time these two teams met, we got what I called the Mirage in Memphis. It was a wild finish for both teams that finished in heartbreak for the Minnesota Timberwolves. 12 days later, they get a chance to seek revenge.
Minnesota @Timberwolves Status Report in advance of tomorrow’s game vs. Memphis:— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) November 19, 2021
Josh Okogie - Back Spasms
Naz Reid - Right Foot Soreness
McKinley Wright IV - G League Two-Way
For Grizzlies-Timberwolves tomorrow.— Evan Barnes〽️ (@evan_b) November 19, 2021
De'Anthony Melton is OUT (right groin soreness)
Sam Merrill: OUT (left ankle sprain)
Dillon Brooks is DOUBTFUL (right hamstring soreness)
What To Watch For
- Both teams are on 2-game win streaks and will continue jockeying for position in the Western Conference. If your brain hasn’t completed the deletion process of their last game against one another, then you still remember the Wolves blowing a 14-point lead with 5:23 remaining in the game. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies are fresh off defeating the Wolves nemesis, the Los Angeles Clippers, transforming a 9-point 4th quarter lead into a 23-point lead. The question now becomes: How big of a lead will the Wolves need to build in order to survive until the final buzzer?
- Minnesota’s bench combined for a season-high 41 points against the Spurs on Thursday. That proved to be a big factor in their second wire-to-wire victory of the season. What version of the Wolves bench will we get tonight? The inspired Taurean Prince 2.0, Headband Jaden McDaniels, and NBA star Malik Beasley, or “We traded Ricky for this guy?”, the ghost of Simmons trade bait, and non-NBA star Beas? On the other end of the court, Memphis’ bench unit just put up 38 of their own points two nights ago, led by CH favorite (and Wolves least-favorite) Brandon Clarke (14 points).
- Although the Grizzlies were able to get key contributions from De’Anthony Melton (Out today) and Brandon Clarke, it was still Ja Morant who outgunned the Wolves and sparked the late game comeback last time. He finished with 33 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists. Last I checked, the Wolves could be down one of their best perimeter defenders tonight with Josh Okogie questionable, so it’ll be interesting to see how Coach Finch schemes for Morant.
- The narrative this season has often been, “If 2 of the 3 core players have a good game, then they should be in position to win.” Last time these two teams faced off, the “Big 3” of the Wolves all scored 25+ points and still lost. It’s not quite that simple. KAT will certainly have his hands full dealing with Steven Adams, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Brandon Clarke, but who will be there to give Towns a hand in the paint if Naz Reid is unable to go? Will D’Lo and Ant get their hands dirty? The Grizzlies also lead the league in percentage of points in the paint at a whopping 49.5% of their scoring coming from inside. It will likely require all hands on deck to survive their paint onslaught.
- A cursory look at the team stats show that the Grizzlies are 10th in offensive rating compared to the Wolves down at 25th. However, things are flip-flopped for defensive rating, as the Wolves are 12th compared to the Grizzlies at 30th. Though that may look favorable to Minnesota, I’m most concerned about the Wolves lack of rebounding on their own end of the court. They are currently 29th in giving up 2nd chance points (15.2) while Memphis is 1st in scoring 2nd chance points (15.9). I’ll be watching how the Wolves gang rebound tonight, as KAT mentioned how playing zone defense has helped him get in better position for rebounds as opposed to switching out to the perimeter.
I asked Coach Finch about how the Wolves are 29th in giving up 2nd chance points while the Grizzlies are 1st in scoring 2nd chance points. This was his response:— YoLeo (@Y0Leo) November 20, 2021
"When you're ranked 29th... which is, actually, higher than I thought it was going to be..." pic.twitter.com/vInkGB20sG
- The Ant pendulum of poor offensive output to supreme offensive output swings back in the Wolves favor. We turn the clock back to 6 months ago when Edwards scored a then career-high 42 points against the Grizzlies, highlighting tonight’s 40-point effort with his first huge dunk of the season on Kyle Anderson. Slo Mo gets a new meaning as Ant’s dunk on Anderson is forever engrained in crystal clear 4K slow motion replays.
- Patrick Beverley gets into a little brouhaha with Ja after slightly undercutting the young star after he attempts a signature airborne feat. Luckily, no one gets injured, but Pat Bev is caught on camera screaming into the home crowd, “THIS IS THE REAL GRIND CITY!” Mempis Twitter gets mad.
Grit and Grind. Let’s GO— Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) August 16, 2021
- KAT gets JJJ into early foul trouble, but the Canis Hoopus comments section laments how the Wolves didn’t draft Xavier Tillman Sr. after he hits his 3rd three pointer of the game. Uncle Rico recommends the Wolves trade 32,500 Hoopus Pointz to the Grizzlies for Tillman.
- The Wolves merry-go-around of optimism goes in full swing as Minnesota defeats Memphis, 110-101.