Western Conference Playoffs Notebook-The Young Ones Dueling  

The most exciting series of the NBA Playoffs so far is the Memphis Grizzlies versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. Full of striking athleticism and tension on the court, we have a classic brewing.

The Grizzlies and Wolves are headed back to Memphis for Game 5 after a 119-118 Wolves win to tie the series. Karl Towns scored 33 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in a huge effort to even things up. It’s a series full of incredible swings in momentum. In Game 3, the Wolves built separate 20 point leads only to lose them and the game. The Grizzlies used a 21-0 run spanning both third and fourth quarters to take control. The Wolves and their fans were shell shocked. They easily could’ve collapsed, if not for Towns and Anthony Edwards.

It was the Wolves physicality in earning 40 free throw attempts that helped them tip the scales in Game 4. Both of these squads are young and sometimes can get out of control, which leads to mistakes. Those mistakes are turnovers and fouls, and the Grizzlies could not stop fouling. We can question the playoff officiating as Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins did here vorciferously.

Granted, there are inconsistencies in the officiating but the Grizzlies have to be more under control. An important player like Jaren Jackson Jr is constantly in foul trouble(6 fouls in 23 minutes in Game 4) and it’s putting the Grizzlies in poor position to defend Karl Towns. With that foul trouble, Towns is seeing smaller defenders and getting easier opportunities to drive to the rim like here. Even in a crowd, Towns is too big and too strong to be deterred.

Memphis really needs Ja Morant to play better. Whether it’s his sore knee or just poor play, we haven’t seen the dynamism he usually brings. Minnesota is attacking him relentlessly on defense. Patrick Beverley has been going by Ja all series for buckets or sucking in the defense for a better look. Bottom line, Morant has to be better on both ends of the floor.

As the series reaches a critical juncture, Minnesota has fought their way to having a shot to win. Memphis Guard Desmond Bane has scored 60 points in the last two, and he’s going to need some more assistance as they go. That will have to come from Ja scoring the ball. Can he provide that? It’ll be interesting to see. If Minnesota can continue to be the more physical team we can see an upset. Game 5 looms very large as we head back to Memphis.

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