On Saturday afternoon, the Minnesota Timberwolves stunned the
Memphis Grizzlies 130-117 at FedExForum to take a 1-0 lead in their
first-round, best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series.
The Timberwolves made it clear to the Grizzlies that they
wouldn't be taking this series lightly.
After having a week off, Memphis was rusty and lacked energy to
start. The Wolves exploited the rust, had more energy, gained
momentum and snatched home-court advantage from a team that
protected its home floor (30-11) in the regular season.
Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane said it best after the loss: "The
game is going to be decided on 50-50 balls. Physicality is
something that we felt like we addressed coming into the series...
We’re going to have to get grimy out there to win a playoff
The Grizzlies have had a habit of getting the better of
opponents. In the regular season, Memphis defeated opponents a
record 14 times by 25 points or more, and had been used to
demoralizing teams early.
Unfortunately for the Grizzlies on Saturday, the plan backfired
and the Wolves were up for the challenge.
"This game and this series is going to be decided on 50-50 balls
and rebounding,” Memphis wing Dillon Brooks said. “That’s the real
grit-and-grind sh*t. So we have to figure out how to be in the
right spots, and play with the physicality they played with."
KEYS TO A BOUNCE-BACK
DEFENSE HAS TO BE BETTER
One of the top defenses in the league gave up 130 points. The
Grizzlies became the first team since 1973-74 to lead the NBA in
rebounding, steals and blocks as a result of their tenacious
defense during the regular season.
What we saw in Game 1 wasn't the same Memphis defense that had
been shutting down dynamic offenses since early December.
Return to the basics: Rebounding, steals and second-chance
points are their bread and butter.
Minnesota outrebounded the Grizzlies by a total of 46 to 35. The
Wolves also had the second-chance edge at 19 to 14. Minnesota was
well prepared and beat the Grizzlies at their own game.
The Grizzlies also gave up 16 three-pointers while only
connecting on 7 of their own.
“They hit 16 threes. That’s what they do,” Brooks said. “We got
to fly out to shooters, know exactly what shooters are out there...
We gotta be on that next game and bring our mentality, bring our
swag into the arena. Put our hard cap on and get ready to go out
there and bang with the big fellas.”
Try to contain Anthony Edwards as much as possible with Brooks
at the primary defender.
He spent most of the game locking down D'Angelo Russell, who was
limited to 2 of 11 from the field. According to NBA.com matchup
data, Edwards went 3 of 7 when Brooks was the primary defender on
KEEP STEVEN ADAMS AWAY FROM KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS AND
Game 1 was Adams' worst contest since he's been with the team.
He finished with 0 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists while getting
cooked on both ends of the floor in his 24 minutes of play. Adams
led the league in offensive rebounds at 4.6 per game, which usually
equates to second-chance points for the Grizzlies. KAT went 6 of 8
when guarded by Adams, while Edwards lit the big man up on 4 of 5
The Grizzlies had better success defensively when Kyle Anderson
and Brandon Clarke were on the floor together. The pairing had a
Defensive Rating of 68.2 in its 10 minutes on the floor, and
Memphis was able to make the game close when the two played
But will it be right to limit Adams' minutes? That's something
Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins and his staff have to figure
JAREN JACKSON JR. SHOULD FORGET "SH*TTY"
On 4 of 13 shooting, Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 12 points, had 7
blocks and grabbed 4 rebounds. Due to foul trouble, he played only
24 minutes. As a result of three costly fouls, he was limited to
just eight minutes in the first half.
Jackson knows he has to do better. On Monday, he summed up his
performance with harsh honesty.
"I was pretty shitty overall," Jackson said after practice. "I
gotta be better – seven blocks don’t mean nothing if we lose and
they put up 130."
Jackson also lost his composure and picked up a technical foul
after shoving Jaden McDaniels.
Karl Anthony Towns dunked on Jaren Jackson
Jr so hard, JJJ pushed a different player that didn't dunk on him
He can’t be baited into doing things out of
character. Because of his proclivity for drawing fouls, JJJ
expects the Wolves to make an effort to remove him from the
"That team takes a lot of charges, kind of like Boston" Jackson
reiterated. "You've just got to move around them, Euro (step), make
better moves. Can't fall into their traps because that's a good
play by them."
It will be a first-round exit if the 22-year-old forward is in
constant foul trouble and not producing on the offensive end. He
has to be available, period.
According to a report from The Commercial Appeal’s Damichael
Cole, Jackson texted Ja Morant after Saturday’s loss: "I got
Jackson says he will be ready.
LOOSEN THE ROTATION
Jenkins needs to go with some of the scrappy guys who
contributed all season off the bench. One such guy is John Konchar,
also known as Jitty. Known for his hustle plays, he is somebody who
gets all the 50/50 balls, deflections and is able to defend.
Konchar would bring a spark off the Grizzlies bench that was
lacking in Game 1.
The undrafted guard out of Purdue Fort Wayne was a problem for
the Wolves on Jan. 13, when he gave Memphis a huge lift off the
bench with 15 points (6 of 7 from the field, 3 of 4 from three) and
grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds.
It might be wise for Jenkins to have Konchar on the floor at
some point during Game 2.
Melton also can guard multiple positions, infiltrate passing
lanes and block shots. He averaged 4.5 deflections and 2.3 steals
per 36 minutes in the regular season.
HAVE THE OFFENSE CLICKING
Their mantra is "everybody eats." The
Grizzlies were 18-1 this season when they had 30 or more assists.
In the series opener, the Wolves assisted on 32 shots while Memphis
only had 25. In the regular season, the Grizzlies set a mark of 41
Jenkins pointed out the struggles they had on offense.
"I felt like we missed plenty of opportunities to make the early
pass... We’ve got to have better balance," he said. "We scored
great in the paint. We got to the free-throw line. It’s going to be
hard if we’re giving up 16 made threes and we’re only making seven.
So, we’ve definitely got to find a way to get more balance on the
With that, Morant put the responsibility on himself for not
finding his teammates for more three-pointers.
"I feel like that’s on me though. Our offense was fine. The
shots we missed were pretty much wide open threes, normally shots
we make, and that’s the difference maker of the game," the All-Star
"They made 16. We only made seven. My job is to... I’m about to
look at film and find ways for us to get those easier shots. And,
that’s pretty much my downhill attack, drawing the help and kicking
out to my shooters.”
Memphis becomes extremely difficult to beat when the team is
able to distribute the ball effectively, create open looks and
limit its offensive mistakes.
To win Game 2, the Grizzlies should concentrate on the strengths
that helped them win 56 games. It's do-or-die time, and they can't
afford to go down 2-0. They've got to embrace the moment and play
every possession as if it's their last when every loose ball
provides an opportunity to get more chances.
With all that said, the Grizzlies remain resilient.
"It’s a very long series. It’s going to be a really long run
here," Brooks said. "It’s just about watching film as a team,
getting back together, seeing what we’ve got to do in the next game
from here on out in this series. That’s something that we’ve done
great the whole year.
"I think that we’re going to be fine from here on out. We’ve
just got to watch some film together and learn from it."
The growl towel for Game 2 says "Ain't No Running in the M," a
phrase made popular by Morant after a victory against the New York
Knicks in early February. The Grizzlies are known for not backing
down from any opponent, and the Wolves are not scared either
The litmus test begins at 191 Beale Street on Tuesday night.
Will the Grizzlies be able to get back that swagger they had in the
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