Game: Minnesota Timberwolves @ Memphis Grizzlies
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds: TWolves +6, Grizzlies -6
It’s now a best-of-three for Minnesota and Memphis who are tied 2-2 in their first-round playoff series. The TWolves won Game 1 in Memphis and will now need to win at least one more there if they are going to pull off a pretty big upset in Round 1. TWolves star Karl-Anthony Towns will need to play like he did in Game 4 if Minnesota is going to have a chance. Towns scored 33 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the TWolves victory. When Minnesota has beaten Memphis this season, Towns has averaged over 24 points a game. He averages less than 12 a game in all the losses.
To Minnesota’s benefit has been the play of Memphis star Ja Morant. In Game 4, Morant was a bit off shooting just 4-of-13 from the floor. He didn’t hit a three-pointer, but he did have 15 assists. Morant’s net rating was a minus-6 for the game. One of the reasons why Memphis is so good is that Morant doesn’t always have to be the guy. Desmond Bane led the Grizzlies with 34 points in Game 4. Bane hit eight three-pointers.
The Grizzlies’ depth will make it difficult for Minnesota. Winning in Memphis is hard enough, but the TWolves can help themselves by sticking to what works. They shot 50 percent in the Game 1 victory and 47.3 percent in Game 4. In the two losses in the series, the TWolves shot less than 40 percent. Minnesota didn’t reach 100 points in either of those two losses.
For Minnesota to win, they will have to ignite the NBA’s top-scoring offense and let it burn. While the Timberwolves are the No. 1 scoring offense in the NBA, they are not very strong against the number as of late. Over their 15 games, Minnesota has covered just five times. They have struggled against Memphis too, going 5-13 ATS in the last 18 games against the Grizzlies. The TWolves are just 1-6 ATS in the last seven games against the Grizzlies in Memphis.
There’s a reason why Memphis ended up with the No. 2 seed in the West. The Grizzlies are 14-6 SU in their last 20 games. At home, they have been outstanding, winning 11 of their last 13 games at the FedEx Forum. While Morant and the offense get a lot of hype – the Grizzlies are the No. 2 scoring team in the league – defense has earned them two wins in the series. Memphis held Minnesota to 96 and 95 points in Games 2 and 3. If the defense steps up tonight, Memphis could gain the upper hand in the series tonight.
So far the series has been split with two Overs and two Unders. Games 2 and 3 went Under, of course as Memphis held Minnesota to less than 100 points. Both teams are big Over teams. Minnesota is the top Over team in the NBA with an O/U record of 52-35. Memphis has seen the total go Over in six of its last nine games and now has a 44-38-4 O/U record for the season.