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Game Preview #21: Wolves vs. Grizzlies

The Wolves have another sizable winning streak on their hands, and look to keep it rolling in Grind City.

San Antonio Spurs v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves will go walking in Memphis for a Friday night showdown against old friend Jaylen Nowell and the Grizzlies.


Game Info


San Antonio Spurs v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Rundown

Via a reschedule of NBA Cup teams that did not reach the knockout round, the Wolves find themselves in Memphis on Friday in search of their sixth straight win, and fourth straight against a current sub .500 team.

The Grizzlies have struggled this season due to the perfect storm of things going slightly wrong. They miss Ja Morant (suspension), Steven Adams (injury), and Tyus Jones (trade). They’ve found themselves with terrible injury luck, too. Marcus Smart and Luke Kennard both are key pieces that have missed extended periods of time.

What’s something going right? Desmond Bane has been a bright spot, and is averaging 35.3 points in December, including a gem in his most recent outing.

With everything going the way it is, however, Memphis still sits just 3.5 games out of 10th place in the West, and a Ja Morant return looms. Should the Wolves be able to capitalize? Absolutely. Will they? Possibly, but an increasingly hungrier team as the season goes on, and as Morant’s return gets closer, awaits on the other end.


San Antonio Spurs v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Wolves on a (Defensive) Roll

Wednesday marked the eighth time that Minnesota has held an opponent under 100 points this season, which is pretty remarkable. Not only have the Wolves been holding teams to under 100 points, but multiple times now have held the opposition to historically low field goal percentages.

The Grizzlies pose a little bit of a different challenge than the San Antonio Spurs. For one, they have a big man who’s an actual shooting threat in Jaren Jackson Jr. Zach Collins proved to not be that on Wednesday.

But branching off of that, they aren’t a pick and roll heavy team. In fact, they’re 23rd in the league in pick and roll frequency. That will most definitely change once Ja Morant is back in the fold, but for now, they play slightly different. They spread things out, and sit at 7th in the league in three point attempts per game. The catch? They’re dead last in percentage from deep.

How spread out do the Wolves get on defense? Are they able to defend consistently at a high level against a team who attempts most of its production from deep? The Grizzlies are 22nd in points in the paint per game. It would be shocking if the painted area is a place that Rudy Gobert will have to defend as effectively as he did against the Spurs.

And the most pressing question of all: does Minnesota continue to buck its trend from last year in being able to manhandle inferior teams?

There’s only one way to find out...


Oklahoma City Thunder v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Prop Corner

A couple props sit below for tonight that I really like. This is my first preview of the season, so TECHNICALLY I am undefeated. Just remember me when you collect your winnings. All lines are according to the DraftKings Sportsbook.

Kyle Anderson o6.5 points (-110)

Kyle Anderson revenge games are more apparent than you may think. As a member of the Timberwolves, SlowMo is averaging 12.4 points against his former team. He also has scored less than seven points against Memphis just once in five games as a member of the Wolves (in the previous game). Plus, Jaren Jackson’s attention will be elsewhere.

Mike Conley o2.5 Threes (+110)

Another homecoming on the Wolves roster, Conley hasn’t attempted less than six threes in two weeks. The volume is consistently there, and he’s often the beneficiary of the extra pass in the Wolves offense. He’s been cold recently from deep, but the value at plus odds is betting that he gets back on track in a very familiar place. The last time Minnesota took the floor at FedEx Forum, Conley found nylon on six threes. I like his chances to this over this evening.