Game: Memphis Grizzlies @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds: Grizzlies -2, TWolves +2
The Memphis-Minnesota has been just about everything fans could want in an NBA playoff series. Two of the best young teams in the league have battled each other with the last two games decided by two points or less. Grizzlies star Ja Morant hit the game-winning layup in Game 5 to send this series back to Minnesota where the TWolves have to win to force a deciding Game 7.
Minnesota has been in this spot before. They lost to Memphis in Game 3 and then won at home 119-118 in Game 4. In Game 5, Minnesota had the same issue it had in Game 3, also a TWolves loss. Minnesota held a fourth-quarter lead only to blow it and lose. That’s twice the TWolves have had leads late in the game only to lose. If Minnesota loses the series, the TWolves can point right back to each of those two games that they let get away.
What Minnesota must do is figure out how to control Desmond Bane and Brandon Clarke. Bane has played well during the series, but he’s been at his best in the road games where he’s averaging 20.1 points a game on 47.6 shooting from behind the arc. In the last three games of the series, Bane has hit 18 three-pointers. Clarke has been a do-it-all type player that has two 20-point games and he had nine offensive rebounds in Game 5. That can’t happen again if the TWolves want to stay alive.
Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards has really taken a step forward in his second season in the league. For the series, Edwards is averaging 24.2 points a game and he’s shooting over 46 percent from the floor. For Minnesota to take Game 6, Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns both need to have big games. Towns is averaging 24.6 points per game this season and has scored 33 and 28 points in each of the last two games in the series.
Memphis is now 14-6 SU in its last 20 games after its win in Game 5. The Grizzlies are also 11-4 SU in the last 15 games against the Timberwolves. Memphis is only 2-4 ATS in its last six games, but the Grizzlies are 13-6 ATS in their last 19 games against Minnesota.
The TWolves have had success at home where they are 10-4 SU in their last 14 games. They are 4-2 ATS in their last six games, but they have not done well against Memphis at home. In the last 12 games against the Grizzlies at the Target Center, Minnesota is just 4-8 ATS.
Game 6 in any playoff series has been particularly kind to road favorites. Since the 2004-05 NBA season, road favorites in Game 6 of a playoff series are 30-11-1 ATS. Those numbers include the two most recent winners. That would be Philadelphia and Phoenix who both won on Thursday night to close out their first-round series with wins in Game 6.
With Minnesota facing elimination, Game 6’s total is the lowest of the series so far. Three of the last four games in the series have gone Under which makes it five of the last seven in games played between the two teams. Five of Memphis’ last seven games on the road have also gone Under.