After a crushing Game 3 collapse, the Wolves bounced back impressively, and ground out a hard-fought win. Tuesday night (7:30pm Eastern; April 18th, 12:30am UK), the series shifts back to Memphis, where the Grizzlies will try to flex their homecourt advantage.
The series that none of us can get enough of his back for a fifth installment!
An offensive outburst from Anthony Edwards and a strong, hard-nosed performance from Karl-Anthony Towns allowed the Wolves to steal Game 1. The Grizzlies responded with an outstanding defensive effort to even the series. In Minnesota, the Wolves look destined to maintain the home court advantage they’d stolen in Memphis, leading by 26 in the first half and 20 in the third quarter, collapsing catastrophically in the fourth quarter. To the Wolves credit, they responded to that potentially backbreaking defeat in Game 4, with a tough effort which, combined with some red hot outside shooting, evened the series at two games apiece.
Despite the hard work it’s taken thus far, now back at home in what is effectively a best-of-three series, the Grizzlies will be liking their chances.
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Minnesota Timberwolves team news
In the aftermath of their devastating to Game 3 defeat, it seemed entirely possible that the Timberwolves’ season was effectively over. No matter the team, that type of collapse is not easy to rebound from. For a young team with extremely limited playoff experience, it had the air of a knockout punch.
To their great credit, the Wolves responded to that heartbreaking loss with a gritty and tough – yet disciplined – showing in Game 4, which ended in a one-point victory and an evened-up series.
After a brutal Game 3 performance, in which he scored just eight points on fewer shot attempts (four) than he had fouls (five), Karl-Anthony Towns bounced back in a big way, with 33 points (including three 3-pointers and 14 made free throws) and 14 rebounds and, most importantly, a more disciplined approach that kept him clear of the foul trouble that’s plagued him all series.
In addition to KAT, Jarred Vanderbilt offered not just inside muscle with eight rebounds, but also chipped in with 12 points and two steals.
On the perimeter, though D’Angelo Russell struggled terribly, fellow starters Anthony Edwards (24 points, 4-of-8 on 3-pointers, 4 assists, two steals, three blocks) and Patrick Beverly (17 points, 4-of-6 on 3-pointers, 5 assists, two blocks) turned in excellent two-way performances. Off of the bench – a problem area for the Wolves thus far – Jordan McLaughlin was fantastic, scoring 16 points on just six shots (with four big 3-pointers) and recording two steals of his own.
It is worth noting, however, that, outside of Russell’s struggles and virtually nothing from the rest of the bench (7 points, on just 1-of-9 shooting; less of an outlier, though worse than one would expect), Game 4 played out exactly as the Wolves would have hoped. Though the Grizz would (and have!) dispute the quality of the calls, but Wolves drew a 33 fouls, which got them to the free throw line for a massive 40 attempts (they had 78 combined in the first three games), of which they made 31. Beyond that, Minnesota made half of their 36 3-point attempts. The Wolves are certainly talented enough to string together strong shooting performances, but if you Minnesota, that level of accuracy and favorable refereeing is tough to expect on a nightly basis.
When you do get it, you hope it translates into more than a one-point win.
Timberwolves predicted starting lineup: Patrick Beverly, D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, Jarred Vanderbilt, Karl-Anthony Towns
Notable injuries: None
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Memphis Grizzlies team news
Few, if any, in the Grizzlies camp – least of all head coach Taylor Jenkins and point guard (and newly-crowned NBA Most Improved Player) Ja Morant – would vouch for the quality of the officiating in Game 4. Almost to a man, the Grizz identified the referees as the primary cause of their Game 4 loss. The reality is, on the road in the playoffs, these things happen.
Impressively, despite feeling as though they were fighting an uphill battle, the Grizzlies hung tough, erasing double-digit deficits on multiple occasions and pushing the hot-shooting Wolves to the very brink. Most impressive is that Memphis put in this performance despite a second straight tough shooting night for their young superstar Morant, who scored just 11 points, on 4-of-13 shooting, but did hand out 15 assists, with just two turnovers, and an ineffectual night from Jaren Jackson, Jr., who scored just seven points and had four turnovers before fouling out in just 23 minutes of action.
The road for the Grizzlies in Minnesota was tough. For this team to return with a win – and two points shy of a road sweep – while not getting the best of Moran speaks not only to the team’s depth, but this entire group’s discipline and fortitude. There’s a lot of credit for that to go around. The lion’s share of it belongs to Desmond Bane (60 points, with 15 made 3’s in Games 3 and 4 combined) and Dillon Brooks (24 points in Game 4), and reserves Brandon Clarke (35 points on just 18 shots, plus 13 rebounds in the two games) and Tyus Jones (24 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in the two games).
This quartet not only provides steady, intelligent play while also perfectly embodying hard-nosed ethos of this team. While it would be a bit aggressive to expect a combined 86 points from these four (as they offered in Game 4), these guys are always going to give you something statistically and, more importantly, will never waver in either their effort or their intensity.
Back at home (where they’ve been excellent all season), with Ja Morant due for a breakout game, and the officiating likely to be at least a bit friendlier, it’s tough not to like the Grizzlies chances in Game 5.
Grizzlies predicted starting lineup: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
Notable injuries: None