The opening round battle between No. 2 Memphis and No. 7 Minnesota has been the most exciting series of the NBA playoffs. Both teams have won on the road, Memphis overcame a 26-point deficit to win Game 3, and Game 5 was a historic battle that ended with an acrobatic Ja Morant layup with one second remaining.
The series now returns to the Target Center in Minneapolis, where the Timberwolves will try to protect their home court and force a Game 7 on Sunday.
While Memphis holds a 3-2 series lead, the Timberwolves can make a strong case they have been the better team throughout this series. Minnesota was one basket away from winning Game 5 on the road, and could have easily won Game 3 if not for the historic comeback. The Timberwolves could have easily won this series 4-1.
Will the Grizzlies closeout this series out with an impressive road win, or can Minnesota give us the drama of a Game 7 back at FedEx Forum?
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Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies Betting Odds
*Lines accurate at the time of publication.
Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies Best Bets
Timberwolves +1.5 (-110, PointsBet)
Minnesota was very impressive in Game 5, almost earning a great road victory at Memphis. The Timberwolves had four players in double-figures, led by a dominant performance by Karl-Anthony Towns (28 points, 12 rebounds). They balanced 14 made three-pointers with a solid 87.5% (21 of 24) from the free throw line. The Timberwolves also dealt with foul trouble, as Patrick Beverly (fouled out), Anthony Edwards (five fouls), and Towns (five fouls), were all limited at some point in the second half.
This pick is based on a lack of belief in a young Grizzlies roster to close this series out on the road. Entering this season, the Grizzlies were the NBA’s second-youngest team with an average of just 24.2 years of age on their roster. Ironically, the Timberwolves entered the year as the third-youngest team, which is why I’m siding with the home team tonight.
The teams that have won closeout road games in this first round, have primarily been veteran teams with extensive playoff experience. Phoenix ended their series at New Orleans last night behind 33 points from veteran point guard Chris Paul. The Mavericks advanced past the Jazz on the shoulders of Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson (24 points each).
Memphis still needs to show they have the type of roster that can win a closeout Game 6 on the road. Veteran starting center Steven Adams has been relegated to the bench, in favor of 23-year-old Xavier Tillman, while 22-year-old Jaren Jackson has been saddled with foul trouble in every game.
Minnesota head coach Chris Finch has impressed throughout the series, and will certainly have a creative defensive scheme to extend this series. He showed his ability to diagram last-second plays with this creative 3P for Anthony Edwards in Game 5.
I’m taking the Timberwolves to win Game 6 and give us high drama in a Game 7 in Memphis.
Risk: 1.10 units on PointsBet to win 1 unit. (Bet up to -120)
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Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies Game Total Under 228.5 Points (-110, DraftKings)
Minnesota has carried a solid 23-19-2 (54.8%) home cover rate this season. The Timberwolves have actually been even better coming off a loss. They are 23-15 (60.5%) ATS in those situations, and have covered the last two games in this series. If I believe the Timberwolves are winning, their most likely scenario is through a lower-scoring game.
The Timberwolves are the NBA’s best team to the over, hitting almost 60 percent of the time at 52-36 (59.1%). However, that percentage drops at the Target Center, where the Timberwolves are actually are actually 52.2% (23-21) to the under.
To win in the playoffs, teams need to slow their pace and commit to the defensive end of the floor. As a result, Minnesota games have played to the under in four of the last six contests.
In an elimination game at home, where the importance of each possession is magnified, I’m expecting a strong defensive effort from Minnesota. Let’s back the under in an evenly matched Game 6.
Risk: 1.10 units on DraftKings to win 1 unit. (Bet up to -120)
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