Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Memphis Grizzlies: Odds, injuries, and what to watch for

The Minnesota Timberwolves get another crack at the Grizzlies after blowing a double-digit fourth-quarter lead to Memphis on Wednesday.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are dangerously close to entering “must-win” territory.

Yes, it seems silly to say that only 11 games into a season, especially one with play-in games that effectively expand the playoff field. But remember, this is only a 72-game season.

Not only that, the losing takes its toll, and the clock is ticking for everyone: head coach Ryan Saunders, president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, Karl-Anthony Towns‘ patience … the list goes on, and there won’t be much appetite for a season with a sub-.300 winning percentage.

The Wolves played well last weekend in a Saturday overtime loss and a victory on Sunday and then turned in three solid quarters on Wednesday. But a terrible 12 minutes flipped the script once again.

To complicate matters, the Wolves will be without Juan Hernangomez and Ricky Rubio due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. That means that just one game after getting both Towns and Josh Okogie back, the starting lineup — and the rotation as a whole — will look different once again.

Minnesota Timberwolves odds vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Despite Wednesday’s loss, the Wolves are 1.5-point favorites, according to The Action Network.

Ja Morant is listed as questionable, so the line could shift based on any news that might break leading up to tip-off.

TV and streaming info for Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Memphis Grizzlies

What to watch for in Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Welcome to another winnable game for the Wolves.

Yes, not having Hernangomez or Rubio completely shuffles the rotation, but they have been two of the Wolves’ least-effective players over the past week.

Normally, it would be fair to expect Saunders to back-fill the 4-spot by giving Okogie or Anthony Edwards run, but against a physical team like Memphis, there’s a chance that we could see some true two-big lineups.

Will Ed Davis or Naz Reid get minutes next to Towns? Perhaps not, but if Jarred Vanderbilt starts and gets into foul trouble once again, it’s a possibility. Memphis was far more physical and out-rebounded the Wolves throughout the fourth quarter on Wednesday, and a lineup with Towns as the only big man will be challenged to win against the Grizzlies.

The Wolves will also have to find a way to slow down the Grizzlies’ effective pick-and-roll game. While Memphis isn’t a truly dangerous team from beyond the arc, they destroyed Minnesota in the paint last time out and if the Wolves don’t play better defensively and communicate their coverages more effectively, this matchup could once again take a turn.

Injury report for Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Memphis Grizzlies

The Wolves are without Hernangomez and Rubio (health and safety protocols). Jake Layman will also be absent, as his wife gave birth to a baby this week. (Congrats, Jake!)

The Grizzlies are still without Jaren Jackson and Killian Tillie, although Morant was upgraded to questionable as he recovers from his sprained ankle.

We’ll be back after the game with player grades. Enjoy!