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Playoff Game Preview #6: Grizzlies at Wolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves face elimination tonight at Target Center.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies Christine Tannous-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info

Who: Memphis Grizzlies (3-2) at Minnesota Timberwolves (2-3)
When: 8:00pm CST
TV: Bally Sports North (also broadcast on ESPN)
Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio
Line: Wolves +1 (courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)


The Minnesota Timberwolves will face off against the Memphis Grizzlies for the final game at Target Center in Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs and, potentially, the final time this season.

The Wolves find themselves down 3-2 in this series after yet another double digit 4th quarter lead was blown on Tuesday night in Memphis. Winning that game would have been huge and the Wolves would have had a chance to put away the series at home tonight. But, that didn’t happen, and they are now fighting for their season.

A win tonight would force a Game 7, which would take place Sunday at 2:30 PM CT in Memphis. So, this is it. The Wolves need to respond from yet another deflating loss. The good news is they have been able to do that well in this series.

What to Watch For

Obviously, this is the biggest game of the season so far. Win or stay home.

The Wolves will need all of their guys to show up, for a full 48 minutes. Karl-Anthony Towns has had some tough games in this series, but he has played well consecutively in Games 4 and 5 by staying out of foul trouble, taking open shots, and keeping his cool. He will need to do that in order to win this one. I think that he has recognized how doing that has helped his team be successful. I can’t say I expect him to keep his head in this one, but I think the odds of an off game are lower than I would’ve said a week ago.

Anthony Edwards has seen up and down performances as well throughout this postseason. He has been effective scoring the ball, but his impact has not been felt at times. The Timberwolves need Play-In Game version of Anthony Edwards for the rest of this series if they want to move on to the next round.

D’Angelo Russell has probably been the most disappointing piece throughout the first 5 games. Besides his solid performance in Game 3 where he scored 22 points, Russell has not been effective scoring the basketball. He’s taking tough shots late in the game and not hitting them. He is known as a tough shot maker, specifically in crunch time, but he just has not been that this series. The Timberwolves need him to step up, not even just in the clutch, but over the course of the whole game. He needs to be a weapon and he just has not been. I expect him to have his best game of the playoffs in this one. He’s been the best at staying level headed all series. He’s a Jedi. Now, it is time for him to take a game by the throat.

The Timberwolves will also need good showing from other two starters, Jarred Vanderbilt and Patrick Beverley, as well as their depth pieces. I expect Beverley to insane in this one, we will just have to see if it is the good or bad version of insanity.

On the other side of the ball, we know that the Grizzlies will be locked in. Ja Morant hasn’t played his best basketball throughout the entirety of this matchup, but he has shown up when it mattered. Desmond Bane has been fantastic and I foresee that trend continuing. Jaren Jackson Jr. has struggled in 4 out of the 5 games thus far, mostly due to foul trouble. The Wolves will need to continue to force him into precarious positions and make him make tough choices.

Keys to the Game

  • Rebound - the Timberwolves cannot afford to let Brandon Clarke get 8 offensive rebounds again
  • Keep cool - this mostly pertains to Karl-Anthony Towns and Patrick Beverley. Each needs to decide to channel their frustrations into the right way to pull this out
  • Take care of the ball - turnovers have been a huge detractor when it comes to Wolves leads. They could’ve pushed further ahead often in this series, but they’ve played too sloppy
  • Keep the crowd in it - the fans at Target Center are ready to detonate at any second and the team needs to give them a reason to
  • Keep the foot on the gas - too many times the Wolves are trying to not lose in the 4th quarter. They need to keep pushing the pace and try to extend leads, rather than hang on to them

Injury Reports

Naz Reid is a late scratch due to personal reasons, which means we’ll either see some Vando at the 5 or a moose sighting.

As for the Grizzlies, they will once again be without Zaire Williams, otherwise they should be good to go as well.

Wolves.

Grizzlies.

Elimination game.

Let’s get it.


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