The game was never out of reach for either team throughout the first 46 minutes, but the Wolves mounted a large lead at the end of the fourth which pushed the Grizzlies into foul mode, ballooning the Wolves’ lead to 13 at the final horn.
The first quarter was one that showed the pace might just not slow down in this series like many thought it would. The Wolves led 41-33 after the first 12 minutes of action and it became clear that neither team seemed to keen on sitting down and settling into their defense.
It was an electric performance from Anthony Edwards, who ended the night 36 points, 6 assists, and 2 rebounds in 40 minutes. Edwards pulled out all the stops in this game. He made 8 of his 12 shots from two, 4 of 11 from deep, and found himself at the free throw line for 8 gimmes, all of which he cashed in on.
On top of his shot making, Edwards had some really great possessions on the defensive end as well, finishing with 2 blocks and a steal in his box score. He ended the game as a +12 for the afternoon.
ANT UP TO 34 POINTS pic.twitter.com/ISdKxGGMUE— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) April 16, 2022
Ant is showing us, and the rest of the league, just how great of a player he is. He lives for big moments. He showed that in the Play-In game on Tuesday and again here in Game 1. Timberwolves fans should be ecstatic to be able to root for this kid.
The other obvious great performance came from Karl-Anthony Towns. He found his way to 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 assists. I said it postgame of the Clippers game, Towns would show up for these games against Memphis and he did just that in the first matchup.
Let’s just be clear:— Brendan Hedtke (@B_HedtkeNBA) April 13, 2022
The Grizzlies won’t do to KAT what the Clippers did tonight. He will show up.
Not only did Towns impact the game with shooting and rebounding, he was also a force on defense without picking up fouls. He played a masterful game defensively and ended the night with three personals, not receiving any calls against him in the first half. He played 43 total minutes in this one and ended as a +16. It’ll be nice to get him two days of rest before the next one on Tuesday night in Memphis.
Oh yeah, we can’t forget about this dunk he threw down over Jaren Jackson Jr.
YOU'LL WANT YOUR SOUND ON FOR THIS ONE. SHEEEEEEEEEEEESH. pic.twitter.com/BAZJIqv3rG— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) April 16, 2022
The next player we should mention is D’Angelo Russell. He did not play very well in this game by looking at the box score. Just 10 points on 1 for 8 shooting from two and 1 for 3 shooting from three. He did manage to dish out 8 assists in his 29 minutes of action as well.
His shot selection was poor, and his shot making was even worse, but still Russell found a way to show up when it mattered, like cashing in on a deep three to put the Wolves up by 7 with just under 6 minutes to go. He ended the night as a +12, so he must’ve done something right. Or, at least, not been too much of a burden out there.
Malik Beasley also had himself a night. He made 4 of his 10 shots from deep, and all 4 of his two-point attempts, ending the night with 23 points. Jaden McDaniels was perhaps the biggest star of the game not containing “Anthony” in his name. McDaniels scored 15 points, pulled down 7 rebounds, and swatted away 3 Grizzlies shot attempts, ending as a team high +19. He had a number of huge moments in this one, including splashing home a triple late in the game after a huge defensive stop on the other end of the court.
THAT'S CLUTCH JADEN pic.twitter.com/PBGNi5QItS— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) April 16, 2022
Patrick Beverley did his thing, making 2 of his 3 two-point attempts, and 2 of his 5 three-point attempts in route to 10 points. On top of his scoring, Pat Bev dished out 6 assists and pulled down that many rebounds as well. He also was, as always, active defensively and caused trouble for a number of Grizzlies throughout this game, amidst the boos raining down in his direction.
Taurean Prince and Jordan McLaughlin didn’t play great, but they also didn’t play bad either. They spent 12 and 9 minutes on the court, and ended as +5 and -2, respectively.
Naz Reid played pretty poorly in his short stints on the court. He picked up 3 fouls in his first four minutes to start the 2nd quarter, which looked to be a big turning point in favor of the Grizzlies. He ended playing only another minute in this one. If his struggles continue, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Greg Monroe get a shot at being the backup center in this series.
Jarred Vanderbilt got the starting nod in this one, and provided his typical rebounding - ending with 6 - and defense, but he didn’t do much else to help the ones. He had one lone bucket for 2 points and was otherwise ignored throughout his 19 minutes. He was the only starter with a negative plus/minus, ending -11 for the game.
Ja Morant did was he always does. He attacked the basket and drew a lot of foul calls. He took 20 trips to the free throw line and made 16 of them worthwhile. He also was 8 for 16 from 2 and 0 for 2 from three, totaling up to 32 points in this one. He ended as a -16.
Jaren Jackson Jr. did a lot of nice things on defense, blocking 7 shots and deterring a handful more, but he also did a lot of fouling. He was limited to 24 minutes of action due to picking up too many personal fouls. He ended the night with 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist. He, like Morant, was a -16 in this one.
Dillon Brooks did some offensive damage in this one, making 3 of his 4 threes and a number of other tough buckets inside the arc. He totaled 24 points on the afternoon. Defensively, Brooks was back and forth. It seemed he would make a nice play, talk some trash, and immediately get blown by.
Steven Adams was nearly unplayable for Memphis, yet was forced to play a ton due to Jackson Jr.’s foul trouble. Adams did not get a shot off and only pulled down 3 rebounds.
Desmond Bane, Brandon Clarke, Kyle Anderson, Ziaire Williams, and Tyus Jones had solid games. Bane was the lone starter with a non-negative plus/minus, ending the game as a wash.
The Timberwolves will stay in Memphis a couple days prepping for Game 2 on Tuesday night.
Surely Grizzlies Head Coach Taylor Jenkins will have some adjustments ready for the next bout, so Chris Finch will get his guys prepared for that. Hopefully we see a bit more juice from D’Angelo Russell and Jarred Vanderbilt and compound that with the success of KAT and Ant in today’s game. As big as winning the first one is, the Timberwolves cannot get too high. Still have to take care of business in 3 more games with 6 chances. Grab another win in Memphis and see if your flight out of Memphis can be your last trip to Tennessee.