No matter how it’s analyzed and dissected, when the wouldas, shouldas and couldas have been accounted for the Memphis Grizzlies won Game 6 of the NBA playoffs against the Minnesota Timberwolves, earning a chance to keep climbing upward.
For the first time since 2015, Memphis will be playing in the second round after beating the Timberwolves 114-106 at the Target Center in Minneapolis. And, painfully for the Timberwolves, the Grizzlies – once again – snatched victory from Minnesota’s grasp.
“We are happy with the result, but we have always had the big picture,” Memphis starting forward Jaren Jackson Jr. said after coming up big – finally – in the opening round series with a big-time stat line: 18 points, 14 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal.
“We have had goals of going further than this. We never settle. That is why it works.”
Jackson’s statistics included five fouls, meaning that he kept himself on the floor after fouling out in two of the previous games in the series. He scored 12 points in the decisive fourth quarter.
“It is a good feeling,” said Jackson about playing well. “You have got to keep raising your level. You have to take the good and bad with each game. You have to keep going. I have been playing with DB (Dillon Brooks) for four years. I know how bad he wants this and it carries out through everyone on the team. That belief is needed. That everyone is on the same page.”
The next page of the playoffs pits the No. 2 seed Memphis against the No. 3 seed Golden State Warriors at FedExForum on Sunday afternoon. The professional oddsmakers have made Golden State favorites to take that opening game.
Memphis’ star point guard Ja Morant (17 points 11 assists and 8 rebounds) said the Grizzlies would enjoy the series-clinching win overnight and quickly shift gears.
“We got it done. That is all we can worry about. We enjoyed our moment, but now it is time to turn the page.”
Memphis’ team of page-turners also featured:
- Desmond Bane, who continued his hot playoff streak with 23 points, including 5-of-9 from three-point range. His 13 points kept the Grizzlies close in the first quarter as he connected on three from deep.
- Brooks, who manufactured 23 points and took on tough defensive assignments before fouling out.
- Brandon Clarke, who brought his patented energy, had 17 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
- Tyus Jones (Minnesota native and former Timberwolves guard), who had 10 points off the bench, including a dagger three-pointer with the game on the line in the fourth quarter.
Minnesota led after each of the first three quarters, with Memphis dominating (40-22) in the fourth after entering that final frame down by 10 points. It was the third comeback win in the series for the Grizzlies after being down by double-digits in the fourth quarter.
Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards came out on fire in the first quarter and finished with a game-high 30 points (also contributing 5 rebounds and 5 assists). He averaged over 30 points in the series. Karl-Anthony Towns had 18 points and 10 assists. The demonstrative Patrick Beverley had 10 points before fouling out late.
Jaden McDaniels had 23 points off the bench for the Timberwolves and Jordan McLaughlin (9 points) proved to be an off-the-bench irritant as a playmaker as Minnesota tried to scratch out the win down the stretch.
“We are used to the moment,” Brooks said of the fourth quarter. “We have been there before, last year with Utah. We just figure it out, how to win and with each other. I wished we had better starts so we would not put ourselves in that predicament, but we are always going to find a way to fight.
“Coach (Taylor Jenkins) said in the locker room, there is not one way to win a game. We just figured out one way.”
The tipoff for Sunday’s game against Golden State’s Warriors is set for 2:30 (CT) and can be seen on ESPN only. The remainder of the Grizzlies’ semi-final games will either be on TNT or ESPN.