Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies: Odds, injuries, game preview

Memphis Grizzles guard Ja Morant will be a challenge for the Minnesota Timberwolves to slow down on Thursday night. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis Grizzles guard Ja Morant will be a challenge for the Minnesota Timberwolves to slow down on Thursday night. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves will try to snap the Memphis Grizzlies’ 10-game winning streak on Thursday night at FedExForum.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies: Odds, injuries, game preview

The Timberwolves and Grizzlies have already squared off in a pair of entertaining games this season. Now, the red-hot Grizzlies will look to extend their impressive 10-game winning streak as they play host to the Wolves.

The first game between the two teams this season was an overtime win by the Grizzlies after Minnesota gave up a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. The second game was only entertaining for Wolves fans, as Chris Finch’s squad raced out to a massive early lead and ultimately won the game by an astonishing 43 points.

After that November loss, the Grizzlies’ record stood at 8-8. Since then, Memphis has gone 21-6. Their ongoing winning streak includes wins over surefire playoff teams such as the Brooklyn Nets, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and most recently, the Golden State Warriors. They also defeated LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers twice during the stretch.

The Wolves lost to the New Orleans Pelicans in the final second of the game on Tuesday, snapping what had been a five-game winning streak.

Overall, Minnesota has played quite well since they began to get their roster back off of the health and safety protocols list. The schedule has been soft, however, and the Grizzlies present the greatest challenge the Wolves have had in weeks.

Minnesota Timberwolves odds at Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies are only four-point favorites in this one, according to WynnBet. It’s perhaps a little bit low, but remember, the Wolves already blew Memphis out by 40-plus once and lost to them in overtime in the other game. Plus, Minnesota should be entirely healthy for this one.

TV and streaming info for Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies

What to watch for in Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies are an interesting matchup for any team. Obviously Ja Morant is nearly impossible to stop, and the Wolves will use a combination of Patrick Beverley and Josh Okogie to try and slow him down.

Memphis is No. 6 in the NBA in offensive rating, but they’re No. 27 in 3-point rate and No. 18 in 3-point shooting percentage, and they’re only No. 19 in free throw rate and No. 26 in percentage from the charity stripe.

What sets the Grizzlies apart offensively is their ability to get into the paint and score at the rim. They lead the league in points in the paint; if they finish in the No. 1 spot it will be the second consecutive year in which Taylor Jenkins’ squad has managed the feat.

Morant is a huge part of that; 30 percent of his shot attempts come within three feet of the rim and he shoots an insane 71.2 percent from that spot on the floor. Steven Adams, who is questionable to play on Thursday due to a non-COVID illness, is a monster in the paint, as is Brandon Clarke.

Additionally, the Grizzlies are No. 1 in the NBA in offensive rebound rate, while the Wolves are No. 27 in defensive rebound rate and are No. 19 in allowing second-chance points.

The Wolves’ defense has been solid in the paint so far this year; they are No. 8 in points allowed in the paint, which obviously isn’t a perfect measure — pace and free throws allowed matter too, after all. But Karl-Anthony Towns has been better defensively and the increased playing time for Jarred Vanderbilt has helped, as has Naz Reid’s increased block rate.

While the point-of-attack and interior defense has largely improved, the copious amounts of second-chance points and opponent free throw attempts are what have been hurting the Wolves quite a bit as of late.

Still, it’s a tough matchup for Minnesota. It will be fascinating to see how Chris Finch plans to try and slow down Morant. Of course, if Adams doesn’t play, the Wolves’ job on the glass will get a whole lot easier.

Injury report for Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies

Patrick Beverley returned on Tuesday after missing two games and is not listed on Thursday’s injury report. However, the Wolves have listed Jaylen Nowell as doubtful due to the ankle sprain suffered against New Orleans, and Leandro Bolmaro remains in health and safety protocols.

The Grizzlies are still without Dillon Brooks, who is out with a severe ankle sprain. Adams is questionable with a non-COVID illness.

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We’ll be back after the game with key takeaways and player grades. Enjoy the game, and here’s to snapping the Grizz winning streak and getting the record to 21-21!