The Memphis Grizzlies finished the Timberwolves’ season last night in yet another impressive fourth-quarter comeback. It was the fourth such comeback in this series alone putting the final nails in the coffin of Minnesota’s dream of a Cinderella season.
The series finished with the Memphis Grizzlies winning in six games just as I had predicted in my Series Preview. But I can’t help but feel the Grizzlies got a bit lucky. I am not sure if the Grizzlies won this series as much as the Timberwolves lost or even gave it away. The series easily could have ended in the same six with the opposite result.
Memphis Grizzlies vs Minnesota Timberwolves Series Recap
I have a long and complicated history as a Grizzlies fan. I grew up watching them play in the 90s while living in Vancouver. The team was terrible but you have to support your home team. I then went a decade or two hating them for abandoning the city. This year, I fully embraced and regained my love for this team as they approach their full potential as an organization.
But watching the Timberwolves last night I was not to get caught up in the excitement of the home crowd from Minnesota. The team has an energy and enthusiasm about them that is fully contagious. If the Timberwolves had won last night last, I don’t think I would have even been upset. Rather, one could not help but feel good about supporting a team with so much youthful passion.
Towns and Edwards
Both of these players had a dramatic influence on the result of this series, both positive and negative. Their youthful enthusiasm and talent put them in a position to win all six games. But it was that same youthfulness that ultimately lead to their demise. It was the small things in this series that made the difference. The value of quality coaching and playoff experience cannot be undervalued in these types of pressure situations.
Game 5 gave us just two examples of what I mean. Towns showed his inexperience by ‘sushing’ the crowd before the game was even in the bag. The gesture seemed to spark the Grizzlies and in particular Ja Morant, into their big comeback. Edwards was guilty of a bad defensive decision on the final play of the game going high side for the steal attempt instead of staying in front of Morant, who then punished them with the game-winning layup.
Mistakes such as these simply cannot happen in the playoffs and they were not the only examples.
Morant took a huge step forward in his maturation in this series. Getting a first playoff series win as team captain is a huge stepping stone for all great players. It is a step we also saw from Luka Doncic only a few days ago.
Morant single-handedly willed his team to victory in the pivotal game 5. Yet I cannot help but question if Morant is ready to become a champion. In order to take that next step into NBA superstardom, Morant needs to find consistency. Finding the intensity he showed in game five for each and every game in the playoffs is what is required of an NBA champion. It is yet to be seen if Morant has that in him this season.
What’s Next for the Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves made a giant leap forward this season making the playoffs for the first time in several years and nearly pulling off a major first-round upset. They need to continue growing as a team and learn from their mistake in this series.
This is a team with a lot of young talent and potential. They should easily return to the playoffs in each of the next several seasons. They may still need another role player or two to solidify their bench. They are perhaps just one more quality starter away from being a dominant NBA team.
What’s Next for the Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies travel back home now to face an even tougher challenge in the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are a team full of NBA champions who are not unlikely to make the same type of mistakes the Timberwolves did. The effort and execution the Grizzlies showed in round one will not be enough to get them through round two. In order to continue this season, the Grizzlies need to continue growing and expanding their playoffs experience. I would even go as far as saying they may need a little bit of luck as well.
My love/hate relationship with the Memphis Grizzlies will continue and you can be sure I will be watching every minute of their journey this season. It is sure to be exciting.
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