Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies Game 2 Preview: Will Minnesota Keep Things Close?

Jacob McKenna previews the NBA Playoff Game 2 matchup on Tuesday, April 19 between the Wolves and Grizzlies.

Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies Odds

Timberwolves Odds +7
Grizzlies Odds -7
Over/Under 241
Time 8:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Memphis Grizzlies will continue to battle for a spot in the second round on Tuesday during Game 2 of this seven-game series.

Minnesota managed to steal Game 1 on the road, putting up 130 points on its way to a 13-point victory. That win was the Wolves’ fifth win in their last seven games, potentially signaling that Minnesota is starting to put the pieces together and is capable of winning this series.

On the other hand, Saturday’s loss was the second in a row for the Grizzlies and their fourth in their last five games. Will they be able to reverse that trend on their home court, or can Minnesota take a 2-0 lead before heading back home?

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Wolves’ Big 3 Matches Up Well With Grizzlies

The Minnesota Timberwolves may be the seventh seed in the Western Conference, but this is a roster that matches up very well with this Grizzlies team.

In four matchups with Memphis during the regular season, Minnesota was able to split the season series, 2-2.

In that four-game span, the Wolves managed to post an Offensive Rating of 119.0 — up from their season rating of 113.8 — and showed decent efficiency, as they shot 46% from the floor and 39% from behind the arc.

A lot of that production came from D’Angelo Russell, who averaged an incredible 31 points, 3.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists in four games against this Grizzlies team in the regular season.

Russell also shot 56% from the floor and 46% from 3 in those matchups, and could be the X-factor in this series even after a poor Game 1 performance.

Of course, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards were right there with him, both averaging above 21 points. KAT shot 38% from 3 and Edwards shot 44% from that same distance.

Towns, Edwards and Russell aren’t typically the Big 3 that many NBA fans think of, but they have proven they can perform against the Grizzlies, and I expect that trend to continue.

Grizzlies All-Along Contributions to Continue?

After getting bounced in the first round last season, the Grizzlies came back and strung together a terrific regular season.

It was a regular season that came as a surprise to many, one in which Memphis put up the second-most wins in the NBA at 56, only trailing the Suns’ 64.

Ja Morant led the charge, putting up numbers that landed himself in the MVP conversation for a potion of the season. He has now solidified himself as a candidate for the Most Improved Player Award.

Morant saw his averages rise to 27.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game, showcasing his ability to take control on the offensive end of the floor.

However, Morant was not the only reason for Memphis’ rise to the top of the Western Conference. In fact, the Grizzlies got contributions from just about everyone.

During the 82-game regular season, this team scored an average of 38.9 bench points per game, which ranked fifth in the NBA during 2021-22.

Guys like Brandon Clarke, De’Anthony Melton, Tyus Jones and rookie Ziaire Williams all averaged at least eight points per contest, and played major roles in Memphis’ success during the 24 games that Morant missed this year.

Jaren Jackson Jr. is another name that was a significant contributor, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. Jackson recorded 177 blocks in 78 total games, which was 40 more swats than Rudy Gobert and gave the Grizzlies a much-needed defensive presence inside.

Timberwolves-Grizzlies Pick

With two of the youngest teams in the NBA going head-to-head for their sixth matchup of the season, this is bound to be another exciting game.

With that being said, I once again expect the Timberwolves to keep this game within arms length.

I said earlier that one of the keys to this matchup is going to be Russell. He clearly dominated Memphis in the regular season, but in Game 1, he scored just 10 points and shot 2-of-11 from the field. The Timberwolves still managed to walk away with a double-digit win, though.

That game was more of a statement of Minnesota’s depth, as it got 36 points from Edwards, 29 from Towns and 43 total points from the bench to help make up for the poor play of Russell.

I doubt we get another bad performance from Russell in this one, and given what was seen on Saturday, I expect the rest of the Timberwolves to continue to rise to the occasion. I expect the Wolves to put together another solid performance against a Grizzlies team that posted a Defensive Rating of 119 against them in four regular-season games.

Pick: Timberwolves +7 (-110)