Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies Game 1 Preview: Expect Memphis to Continue Its First Half Dominance

The Grizzlies are a league-best 54-28 ATS in the first half and boast the league's best first-half net rating (+9.6). Austin Wang expects this run to continue against a Timberwolves team that is in a prime let-down spot after their big win against the Clippers.

Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies Odds

Timberwolves Odds +6.5
Grizzlies Odds -6.5
Over/Under 235.5
Time 3:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

If you love trash talking and physicality in basketball, this is the series to watch.

NBA viewers get a treat as two of the league’s up-and-coming teams meet in the first round. Neither team has much postseason experience, but both teams took a huge leap this season and feature some of the best rising stars in the game, such as Ja Morant and Anthony Edwards.

The Timberwolves celebrated like they won the championship on Tuesday night, and rightfully so. They looked dead in the water after Karl Anthony-Towns picked up his sixth foul down seven points with just over seven minutes to go.

Led by Patrick Beverley, Edwards and D’Angelo Russell, the Wolves rallied without their big man and ended up outscoring the Clippers 31-20 in the fourth quarter.

These two teams split their season series 2-2 with both teams winning their respective home games. However, Dillon Brooks didn’t play in any of those games. Can the Timberwolves pull off an upset, or will they have a let-down spot after their big win against the Clippers? Let’s break down this exciting Game 1.

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Can the Minnesota Timberwolves Avoid a Let Down?

Don’t be fooled by the seventh seed because the Timberwolves are much better than their record and seeding indicate. They struggled with injuries and were especially hit hard with league health and safety protocols in the middle of the season.

Despite Towns’ poor performance against the Clippers, Edwards (30 points) and Russell (29 points) stepped up and led this talented young team into the playoffs.

Russell averaged 31 points per game against the Grizzlies, and the Wolves will need him to stay hot if they want to keep up with the run-and-gun Grizzlies.

Taurean Prince is listed as questionable for Game 1, and he has been an important contributor for the Wolves down the stretch. Since the All-Star Break, he has averaged double-digit points (10.5) in 20.5 minutes off the bench. His presence will be missed sorely against a deep Grizzlies team. He has been able to practice, and coach Chris Finch seems to be optimistic about his availability.

The Wolves are an excellent first half team. They are second in the league in first half ATS record at 47-31-4, only trailing the Grizzlies. However, I think they may struggle after their emotional comeback win against the Clippers. Also, they will be visiting a hostile environment on the road that will be rocking with energy. I could see them coming out slow.

Can Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies Handle the Wolves’ Defensive Pressure

No one expected this team to steamroll through the Western Conference and finish with the league’s second-best record (56-26). This Grizzlies team is embodying and carrying on the franchise’s “grit and grind” legacy. They’ve got no issues putting points on the board, but they’ve also got some gritty players such as Steven Adams, Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane and De’Anthony Melton who can really put the clamps down on the opposing team.

We can’t forget their star, Morant, who usually appears to be the smallest player on the court due to his thin frame, but he uses his insane athleticism to force his way into the paint and embarrass those who try to stop him.

For Game 1, the Grizzlies are more rested and have no meaningful names on their injury report. It appears the Grizzlies have a huge advantage on paper, but it is worth noting that Morant averaged only 20 points per game on just 33.8% shooting in the four matchups against the Wolves.

Beverley has an incredible skill of getting under people’s skin and being a pest, and it appears that Morant really struggles with that. In addition, the Grizzlies only shot 30% from behind the arc against the Timberwolves this season.

The Grizzlies have been amazing at home. They are 30-11 straight up and 27-14 (65.4%) against the spread this season.

Outside of the Phoenix Suns, the Grizzlies were the only other team that finished in the top six in both Offensive Rating (fourth – 114.3) and Defensive Rating (sixth – 108.9), per NBA Advanced Stats.

The Grizzlies are especially good in the first half. They are 54-28 ATS in the first half this season, per our Bet Labs tool. In addition, they are ranked first in first-half Net Rating (+9.6).

Timberwolves-Grizzlies Pick

I think the Grizzlies have the advantage here, but I think the full-game spread of -6.5 is a bit too lopsided between these teams that are not that far apart.

Instead, I would much rather take them in the first half. The scrappy Wolves have the ability to keep it close and cover such a large margin, but I think they come out slow in a let-down spot after their gutsy win in the Play-In Tournament.

Both are excellent first half teams, but the Grizzlies are the most superior first half team in the league. There has been plenty of chatter and narratives that speak to the Grizzlies’ struggles against the Wolves and the highly anticipated matchup between professional nuisance Beverley and Morant. While Beverley’s tactics could wear Morant down over time, I expect it will not have much of an effect at the beginning.

I’m taking the Grizzlies to cover the first half spread of -3.5 in Game 1.

Pick: Grizzlies -3.5 1H