One of the first-round matchups in the Western Conference playoffs – the Memphis Grizzlies versus the Minnesota Timberwolves – will be very intriguing and exciting.
It will pit two of the National Basketball Association’s highest-scoring and fastest-breaking teams, as well as two of its best and most promising young teams overall.
Most agree that the Grizzlies, who finished with the league’s second-best record, are easy favorites to take this series.
But there is a scenario where the Timberwolves not only give Memphis a run for its money but also perhaps upset and knock them out of the playoffs unexpectedly.
The Timberwolves May Have More Talent On Paper
Memphis boasts the best player in the series in third-year wunderkind Ja Morant, who has become one of the best and most exciting players in the NBA in just his third pro season.
Morant averaged 27.4 points and 6.7 assists per game this season while shooting 49.3 percent from the field and improving his 3-point shooting accuracy.
But while the Grizzlies do not have any other All-Star-caliber players, Minnesota has at least two.
Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the best players in the NBA that people don’t talk much about, although by the end of this series, people around the league may start to pay more attention to him.
He averaged 24.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game this year while making 52.9 percent of his shots and 41.0 percent of his 3-pointers.
Anthony Edwards, the number one pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, put up 21.3 points per game in the regular season, and he went off in the Timberwolves’ 109-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in Tuesday’s play-in game with 30 points and five 3-pointers.
Pat Beverley on Anthony Edwards: "No one can guard him. I don't care who plays at him. I done seen the best defensive guys. I'm one of the best defensive guys on earth. No one can guard him & I keep preaching that to him."
30 PTS | 5 3PT | 5 REB 🐜pic.twitter.com/8ecc9W2jaH
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) April 13, 2022
Some will say that D’Angelo Russell isn’t an All-Star-caliber player, but at worst, he is close to that level.
He averaged 18.1 points and 7.1 assists a game this season, and he exploded for 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting versus the Clippers to help put them away.
Patrick Beverley Will Be Key
Patrick Beverley is considered one of the NBA’s best defensive guards, and having to go up against him for an entire game is a challenge.
He not only shuts people down, but he also lets them know about it in a borderline-sadistic way.
On Tuesday, Clippers starting guard Reggie Jackson shot just 7-of-18 from the field while committing five turnovers.
In four contests versus the Timberwolves this season, Morant was held to 20.0 points a game on 33.8 percent shooting from the field and a frigid 15.0 percent from downtown.
I’m thinking all-star weekend, let’s see Ja Morant and Patrick Beverley play one on one as an event. I’d tune in for that. pic.twitter.com/aqIbLMGxTr
— Wolves Report (@MNTwolvesreport) January 15, 2022
He shot over 40 percent against them in only one of those games, and in another one, he went just 3-of-9 from the field in a 138-95 beatdown.
If Beverley locks down Morant at any time in this series, who else on the Grizzlies will put up enough points to deliver them a victory?
Keep in mind that while they averaged 115.6 points a game, which was second in the NBA, Minnesota led everyone with 115.9 points per game.
If Morant is off, and if his team is unable to keep the Timberwolves under 110 points, they could be in some trouble.