- Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (30-28) at Memphis Grizzlies (33-21)
- When: 7:10 PM CT
- Local TV: Bally Sports North (Michael Grady, Jim Petersen and Katie Storm)
- Radio: 830 WCCO-AM
- Line: Wolves +7 | Total: 234 (courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
- Nickeil Alexander-Walker (trade)
- Mike Conley (trade)
- Kyle Anderson (back spasms)
- Rudy Gobert (right groin soreness)
- Karl-Anthony Towns (right calf strain)
- Steven Adams (right PCL sprain)
- Luke Kennard (trade pending)
What To Watch For
Conley and Gobert Together Again
Mike Conley will make his Timberwolves debut in Memphis, where his fantastic NBA career began, and he will do so alongside his former Utah Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert, is thrilled about reuniting with one of the most well-respected people in the NBA.
“I’m just really happy that it’s Mike. I’m excited. Obviously I love Mike,” Gobert told Sarah Todd of the Deseret News on Wednesday night in Utah. “I just love the way he plays the game they way makes people around him better, his professionalism, the way he plays to win and his selflessness and I love him as a person too, so obviously I’m happy.”
The pair held a +9.2 net rating on the floor together last season, good for eighth in the entire NBA among two-man lineups with at least 1500 minutes played. If you filter out garbage time, that net rating jumps to +10.3, good for the 95th percentile league wide without minutes filters, per Cleaning the Glass. Without Conley, those numbers dipped to +8.1.
This season, lineups with Gobert and D’Angelo Russell were +0.2, and took a nearly identical dip to -2.1 with Gobert and no Russell, including a 106.2 offensive rating, good for the sixth (!) percentile per CTG. In other words, the Wolves have been incredible defensively but equally poor offensively this season with Gobert on the floor. Conley already understands how to defend with Gobert out there, but now is flanked by a better defensive trio in Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels and Kyle Anderson than he ever played with in Utah.
With Conley out there alongside Gobert, the goal is that the defense can remain elite while providing a massive lift to the team’s rock bottom floor offensively. The Wolves have an astronomically high 17.0% turnover rate (seventh percentile per CTG) with Gobert on the floor; if they can cut down on the turnovers trying to feed Gobert with Conley in the fold, they should be able to accomplish that goal.
So far this season, Utah’s at-rim assisted made field goal rate climbed from 50.2% to 61.1% and assists per 100 possessions jumped from 23.9 to 28.0 with Conley out there — two trends that will need to continue in Minnesota if the Wolves want to avoid the Play-In tournament.
Conley has largely plays two chunks of minutes per half, while Russell (and Gobert) played three, so he will see plenty of time alongside Edwards, but also key bench cogs Jaylen Nowell and Taurean Prince. He’ll get thrown into the fire against an elite, top-10 Grizzlies defense that holds a defensive rating of just under 109 at home since the start of the new year.
All-Star Anthony Edwards Torching Dillon Brooks, Again
In case you missed it, Edwards was named an NBA All-Star on Friday afternoon, alongside Sacramento Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox and Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam. Shortly after receiving the news, Edwards wasn’t shy about admitting his feelings about initially losing out on an All-Star nomination, while Grizzlies stars Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. made it over him.
“It’s competition time, for sure.”
Simply put, Memphis is in trouble, folks.
After he got ejected for getting punched in the nuts by Dillon Brooks a few weeks ago, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell said that he’s been busting Brooks’ ass for years. Well, Edwards has been busting Brooks’ ass, too.
The first-time All-Star has averaged 24.5 points on 47.1/43.3/80.3 shooting splits since the start of the 2021-22 season (including playoffs)and has scored 25 or more points in four straight games. There’s no reason to believe that stops tonight, as Edwards has actually been better in Memphis than he has in Minneapolis as this rivalry has intensified over the last two seasons. Ant is averaging 27.2 points per game on 47.0/42.6/85.7 in those six games in Memphis, including a 36-point outburst in his first ever NBA Playoff game last April.
He’ll face a defense that will play in the gaps and load up on him as best they can, especially without Russell next to him to take the pressure off as a shooter. But, Edwards has proven that he can overpower any defense the Grizzlies throw at him, and will be looking to put on a show.
Get your popcorn ready.