NBA Western Conference playoffs: Memphis Grizzlies vs Minnesota Timberwolves series preview and predictions

Anthony Edwards player props
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Andrew Ortenberg

NBA· 1 month ago

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I'm an editor here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up.

It’s a special time of year. The NBA playoffs are here, and one of the most intriguing matchups in the Western Conference is this #2/#7 series between the Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves. Minnesota punched its ticket here by beating the Clippers on the opening night of the play-in tournament. Memphis was the league’s most pleasant surprise this season, defying all expectations to grab the second seed despite Ja Morant missing significant time.

This series is going to be a ton of fun, and it should get chippy. Players from both teams have already started to set the drama, with Morant taking to Twitter to laugh at the antics of Patrick Beverley. Without further ado, let’s break down the teams and discuss our best bet for the series:

Breaking down the Memphis Grizzlies

There was optimism that this young Grizzlies team would be able to take another step this season, but I don’t think anybody saw this coming. Memphis was the clear second-best team in the West for much of the season, finishing at 56-26. And they did that despite the fact that Morant missed 25 games and 18.4 ppg scorer Dillon Brooks missed 50 games. With both those guys fully healthy entering the playoffs, Grizzlies fans have to be feeling pretty good.

By all accounts, this team has been a year ahead of schedule. They’ve gotten more than they ever could’ve hoped for out of the Steven Adams trade, and have a plethora of young talent. In addition to Morant and Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr and Desmond Bane both also average at least 16 per game. Memphis did lose three of four down the stretch, although they did just tank the finale.

The Grizzlies were great on the road this season, and it’ll be interesting to see whether that translates here in the playoffs with their youth. There’s a lot to like here, but it’s also worth remembering this team has way less playoff experience than your typical 2-seed does.

Breaking down the Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves have taken a big step forward this season. They haven’t been nearly as good as the Grizzlies, but it’s still been a positive season all around as they’ve made major strides from their past ineptitude. Karl-Anthony Towns played like a superstar this season, and obviously Anthony Edwards was electric. He might be only 20 still, but Edwards is going to be a huge part of the T-Wolves’ success if they have any in this series.

Minnesota just beat the Clippers in the play-in tournament to get here,  and Edwards was the main reason why. He dropped 30 points in the first playoff game of his career. Perhaps most importantly for the team, the Timberwolves were able to beat a tough Los Angeles team despite KAT fouling out with just 11 points.

Over the last couple months in the season, the T-Wolves had the most efficient offense in the entire NBA. D’Angelo Russell had 29 against the Clippers, and he might be the X-factor of this series. Memphis is going to throw everything they’ve got at slowing down KAT and Edwards, so Russell better be ready to step up once again.

Also check out our Raptors vs 76ers series preview

Memphis Grizzlies vs Minnesota Timberwolves series prediction: Timberwolves 4-3

These teams’ meetings in the regular season indicate this one could go the distance. They played each other four times, and each side won twice. Three of the games were extremely close ones that came down to the wire. The other was a 40-point blowout that Minnesota won. Memphis certainly didn’t have a clear advantage, so I’m jumping at the opportunity to take the Timberwolves +260 to win this series.

Morant just returned from an injury in time to play one regular-season game prior to this series, so he might not be 100 percent. The Timberwolves have momentum following their win over the Clippers, and their offense has been lights out for months. Minnesota’s biggest weakness in a playoff series — its lack of big game experience — isn’t that much of a factor here since the Grizzlies are also very young and inexperienced. I think this one is going to be a toss-up.

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