Early in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against the Memphis Grizzlies, the young and explosive Minnesota Timberwolves were looking mighty, as they took as much as a 26-point lead in the second quarter.
It looked like they were on their way to taking a 2-1 lead in the series and possibly knocking off a team that had finished with the second-best record in the West.
But then the roof started to cave in on the young Timberwolves.
Memphis came back to win on the Timberwolves’ home court, 104-95, and in doing so, it seemingly took a stranglehold on the series.
THE GRIZZLIES PULL OFF AN UNBELIEVABLE COMEBACK 🤯
Memphis erases a 26-point deficit to stun the Timberwolves in Game 3! pic.twitter.com/hoaPkPjdyp
— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 22, 2022
It also taught Minnesota a hard lesson: The team simply isn’t ready to win, at least not yet.
The Timberwolves Blew A Golden Opportunity
In Game 1 of this best-of-seven, the Timberwolves impressed the basketball world by beating Ja Morant and company, 130-117, in Tennessee.
KAT, Ant, D-Lo, and the Timberwolves took down the Grizzlies in Game 1 of their series to pull off our upset of the week 🐺 ✅ pic.twitter.com/nY5E4RMSgK
— NBABet (@nbabet) April 18, 2022
Morant had 38 points and eight assists, but the Grizzlies, who ranked fourth in defensive rating during the regular season, simply put up little or no resistance against Minnesota.
Karl-Anthony Towns muscled his way to 29 points on 11-of-18 field-goal shooting and 13 rebounds, while guard Anthony Edwards, who is one of the National Basketball Association’s rising stars, had 36 points, six assists and two blocked shots.
Even after Memphis pummeled the Timberwolves in Game 2, 124-96, things were looking good for Minnesota.
Although the Grizzlies were considered the overall favorites, a few in the media were picking the Timberwolves to win the series.
Instead, now their season could be coming down to Game 4 on Saturday, because if they lose, they will fall behind 3-1 in the series, giving Memphis the opportunity to close things out at home in Game 5.
Minnesota Has To Grow Up – Fast
When a team blows a 25-point third-quarter lead, especially when it happens at home, it has only itself to blame.
On “Inside The NBA,” analyst and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley scorched the Timberwolves for making dumb decisions that led to their demise on Thursday.
Towns, who is one of the league’s most dominant big men, took only four shots the entire game and was limited to only eight points, which is flat-out unacceptable.
Minnesota needs to find a way to get him the ball more in his sweet spots, especially when the game slows down.
It also needs to do a better job of sustaining its transition game, which is one of the deadliest in the NBA.
The Timberwolves had 20 fast-break points in Game 3, which is solid, but they didn’t do a good job of dictating the pace down the stretch.
On a related note, they need to get their offense going in general.
They have failed to reach 100 points in both of the last two games, and NBA teams cannot expect to beat a quality opponent when they score so few points.
Of course, if the Timberwolves take Game 4, especially if they do so convincingly enough, the whole tenor of the series could change once again, leading to a very competitive and long series, which is what most expected anyway.