In this first-round series versus Minnesota, the Memphis Grizzlies didn’t act their age, especially when they were down by double digits entering the fourth quarter three times.
The Grizzlies defeated the Timberwolves with a relentless and uncompromising finish. The Golden State Warriors will be their next opponent.
On Friday night, the Grizzlies rallied for a 114-106 triumph over the Timberwolves in Game 6, with Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks each scoring 23 points.
“I wish we had gotten better beginnings so we wouldn’t have been in that situation,” Brooks said, “but we’ll always find a way to fight.”
Brandon Clarke added 17 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for the Grizzlies. They overcame another lackluster performance from star Ja Morant and a double-digit deficit heading into the fourth quarter.
Bane, who led the Grizzlies in scoring throughout the series, stated, “We stick together, stay on the same page, and I think it really showed on the big stage this series.”
For the first time in seven years, the Grizzlies have advanced to the NBA playoffs to face Golden State, the NBA champions in 2015, 2017, and 2018. On Sunday, the first game will be held in Memphis.
“Physically and mentally, this series was a battle,” said a visibly exhausted Morant, who finished with 17 points and 11 assists on 4 of 14 shooting. “Except Game 2, the wins were pretty nasty, but we got it done.”
Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards scored 16 of his 30 points in the first quarter. Although Jaden McDaniels scored 24 points off the bench and Karl-Anthony Towns contributed 18 points and 10 rebounds, the team’s late-game problems were evident.
Coach Chris Finch stated, “We demonstrated that with our shot selection in the fourth, and it’s ingrained in our DNA right now.” “We know we have to take something away from this.” We won’t all be able to save the day on our own.”
The here-we-go-again sensation was evident in the building as the Wolves’ 84-74 advantage at the third-quarter break swiftly vanished, making the Grizzlies the first club in NBA history to win two games in the same playoff series by erasing a double-digit-point fourth-quarter deficit.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Bane and Brooks each scored tying 3-pointers, and Brooks fouled out just 26 seconds after he tied the game at 97.
I’m a seasoned pro. “I believe they thought I would go 1 for 10 once more.” Brooks, who shot 9 for 19 overall and 5 for 6 from deep, said, “I figure stuff out.”
At 3:03, Bane swished another three from distance to give the Grizzlies a 101-99 lead, their first since they were up 39-38.
The kill shot came soon after for a Wolves club that was regularly a step and a hop behind on the glass against the Grizzlies this season, as it has been against many others.
Tyus Jones missed a pair of 3-pointers from the wing on the same play, but the Grizzlies rebounded both, and Morant converted the second one for a layup and a four-point advantage.
After McDaniels, who had the best game of his two-year career, sank a 3-pointer with 1:34 left to get the Wolves within one, Jones — a former Timberwolves player and Minnesota native — answered with a 3-pointer with 1:09 left to push the advantage back to two possessions.
Although the agony of the two wasted leads in defeat earlier in the series and the franchise’s shady past, the Wolves fans came out in force to give them a commanding advantage.
Latrell Sprewell, a former Timberwolves standout, sat courtside, a few seats down from Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. Fans held neon-blue glow sticks for the entirety of the night in the entire downtown arena, as local head coaches P.J. Fleck (Gophers football), Ben Johnson (Gophers basketball), and Cheryl Reeve (Lynx) were in attendance.
Finch and Towns both clapped and waved to the fans in appreciation of their season-long support as they walked off the floor after the game.
Towns added, “How much this team has given me this city has really helped me enjoy basketball again.”
THRILLS IN BEVERLEY
With his intensity, experience, and tenacity, Patrick Beverley has been one of Minnesota’s most important players in this series — and all season.
On his way back, he hit a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Wolves a 69-56 lead, they’re most significant of the game, and smirked at Morant. On the other end, the NBA’s Most Improved Player responded with a smile and a three-point play by flipping in a layup and earning a foul. The Grizzlies went on a 12-0 run, which Beverley ended with another 3.
MANDATORY WINNINGS IN MINNESOTA
This was the Timberwolves’ first Game 6 in their brief postseason history, though they did host Game 7 at Target Center in 2004 to close out a second-round series against Sacramento.
The Wolves also beat the Lakers in Game 5 of the Western Conference playoffs that year before losing in Game 6 in Los Angeles. They’ve only won two knockout games at home in their history, having fallen in the first round in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002.
Grizzlies: In the series, Bane shot 27 of 56 3-pointers. That’s already the most goals in a single postseason in team history. In 13 postseason games in 2011, O.J. Mayo made 20 shots from beyond the arc.
Timberwolves: Due to the absence of Naz Reid due to personal circumstances, newcomer Greg Monroe was given the backup center role for the first time in the series.