NBA Playoffs: Analyzing the Timberwolves’ historic loss to the Grizzlies

On Thursday, the Minnesota Timberwolves made postseason history in the NBA, but for all the wrong reasons, as their 104-95 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 2 of the series will be remembered as one of the most shocking debacles in league history.

The Minnesota Timberwolves showed two very different facets throughout the game, as they scored 39 points in the first quarter only to score 12 in the second. The story continued this way in the second half, as the T-Wolves scored 32 points in the third quarter only to score just 12 in the fourth and final quarter.

Thus, the Minnesota Timberwolves ended up being outscored 104-95, but the truth is that the game closed with a 50-16 period in favor of the Grizzlies; Ja Morant (who ended up registering a triple double) and company should be credited for not giving up and achieving a feat that seemed unthinkable.

Minnesota Timberwolves’ offense deflated

The T-Wolves started the night on fire at Target Center. The team made excellent shots on short possessions and played at a fast pace that left the Memphis Grizzlies confused and unable to defend effectively. In fact, the Minnesota Timberwolves were so dominant in the early going that they found themselves up 47-21 on the scoreboard for a portion of the second quarter before completely imploding.

T-Wolves coach Chris Finch attributed the debacle to the team’s inability to follow through on what it had done to start each half.

Obviously I like to stick with what was working, which was rhythm and moving the ball and handling it early. We have a habit of slowing down in games at those times. I think we did a good job of creating some spaces when they were getting set in a specific direction to create some early opportunities — we just have to do it earlier in the clock.

Chris Finch after the game, according to KSTP-TV.
minnesota timberwolves karl anthony towns
Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns complains about a call to referee James Capers (19) during the second half in Game 3 of the team’s NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday, April 21, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

Another of the gray spots of the night for the Minnesota Timberwolves was their star center, Karl Anthony Towns, who finished the game with more fouls committed (five) than shots made after making just 4, of which 3 were successful for a total of eight points. Towns was not even able to finish the game as he left the court in the third quarter after accumulating fouls.

His coach, however, backed him up, mentioning that he was “surrounded from all sides” and that they must find some way to free up space for him.

The Memphis Grizzlies completed a record-setting comeback both in league and for the team

When these kinds of things happen in sports,it’s usually the team that implodes that makes the news, but how can something comparable happen when you’re on such a big stage and performing at such a high level? But the reality is that the Memphis Grizzlies, seeded second in the Western Conference, did their job and demonstrated something that any team that wants to aspire to big things needs: to always have a winning mindset.

Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks (24) and Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) celebrate during Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Minnesota Timberwolves Thursday, April 21, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

Anyone would have been demoralized at being so far down, but the Grizzlies accepted the challenge and took the honors and the respect and admiration of all. After falling behind by as many as 26 points, the Memphis Grizzlies rallied to win, marking the franchise’s biggest comeback in postseason history and tying the team’s all-time mark in any game, playoff or non-playoff.

Ja Morant also engraved his name in golden letters. While the team’s offensive production on the night came from Desmond Bane (26 points) while Morant showed a lack of scoring by hitting 5 of 18 shots, the young player finished the game with a career-high 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, which meant the first triple double by a Grizzlies player in their postseason history.

The Grizzlies will have to play again in Minnesota on April 23 and will be looking to continue the momentum after this historic win. If they do, returning to Tennessee with a 3-1 series lead would allow them to close out the series playing at home in front of their fans.

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