The Memphis Grizzlies finished off a sweep of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday to give themselves a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.
A first-round series stressed by dramatic Grizzlies comebacks, bill dunks, foul trouble and a healthy serving of trash talk came to a close in Game 6 on Friday night, as Memphis excluded the Minnesota Timberwolves 114-106 with yet another emotional rally.
The Grizzlies advanced to the conference semifinals for the first time since 2015 and will host the Golden State Soldiers in Game 1 on Sunday in Memphis (ABC, 330p ET).
“The series was a battle,”Memphis point guard Ja Morant said.”We knew that every game would be a duel. Coming in we knew, with this platoon, we wouldn’t win this series in one game. We knew that every game would be a duel, that we had to come in locked in and bring our energy from the launch. Obviously, the triumphs were enough unattractive outside of Game 2, but we got it done.”
For the third time in the series, Memphis on Friday crushed a double- number lead in the fourth quarter. As the Grizzlies ate down at the deficiency and took the lead in the ending twinkles, a pall fell over the long-suffering Timberwolves crowd at Target Center who just witnessed one of the most major defeats in NBA history in Game 4 lower than a week agone.
“I feel like we are always confident no matter what the score is,”Morant said.”We treat it enough much as zero-zero.”
The Grizzlies made a habit in the series of falling before in the opening three diggings, only to use some timely shot- making and protective stops, as well as overwhelming the Timberwolves on the obnoxious glass to roar back.
“I wish we had better thresholds,”Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks said.”We do not want to put ourselves in that dilemma, but we always find a way to fight. Like trainer (Taylor Jenkins) said in the locker room,’There is not one way to win in the NBA playoffs.’There are a lot of ways to win and we just figured out one way.”
Memphis guard Desmond Bane, the most murderous shooter in the series, hit a 3- pointer with three twinkles remaining to give Memphis its first lead of the alternate half. Morant unleashed one his patented acrobatic layups soon after, also Twin Metropolises native Tyus Jones drained a pivotal 3- pointer at the shot- timepiece buzzer with 109 left in the game, which pushed the Grizzlies’ lead to four, one Memphis would noway relinquish.
The Grizzlies outscored the Timberwolves by 62 points in the fourth quarter in the series, the stylish fourth- quarter discriminational in any series in NBA history. Memphis is the first platoon to log three triumphs prostrating double- number poverties entering the fourth quarter in a single postseason, and they fulfilled the feat in a single first-round series.
“We have been down twice- integers plenitude of times and came back and won,”Morant said.”We know the game isn’t over until there are bottoms on the scoreboard at the end of the fourth quarter.”
The series was a show for a number of youthful stars, including Morant and big man Jaren JacksonJr., Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns and sect Anthony Edwards. Each enjoyed transcendent moments and endured delicate struggles.
Edwards put together the most harmonious body of work in his debut playoff series. Municipalities was dominant in the Timberwolves’two triumphs, but was beset by foul trouble in losses. Jackson, who also spent important of the series in foul trouble, could not establish any kind of obnoxious game until the alternate half of Game 6. He did lead Memphis’starters in protective standing over the course of the series, in which he blocked 16 shots in six games.
But it was Morant who commanded the utmost attention in the series. An All-Star in 2022 during his third crusade, Morant equaled27.4 points per game during the regular season and led the NBA in points in the makeup. His late heroics in Game 5 fueled another Memphis comeback, but he was held in check for important of Game 6, as he was in the series. Though he finished with only 17 points, Morant was formerly necessary as the Grizzlies’ bottom general as they offered their fourth- quarter comeback. He finished with 11 assists.
As was the case for important of the series, the Grizzlies’formula for success in Game 6 included creative playmaking by Morant, ardent outside shooting from Bane and exertion around the handbasket from reserve center Brandon Clarke.
For Bane, a alternate- time player, the series further established him as one of the NBA’s brightest youthful firing guards. The final pick in the first round of the 2020 draft, Bane led the Grizzlies in the series with23.6 points per game on a sizzling true firing chance of66.6 and46.8 from beyond the bow.
Still, the MVP of this series is this joe right then,”Morant said while sitting alongside Bane at the postgame news conference,”If you ask me.”Time and time again, he came up big- time. He hit some big- time shots for us, indeed kept us in the game, and gave us a lead.”
The conference semifinals series between Memphis and Golden State is a clash between the NBA’s most seasoned team, which has won three titles with its current core, and one of the NBA’s youthful brigades, which arrived into the league’s upper stratum ahead of schedule.
After the game, Morant was visibly exhausted, as he placed his head down on the tribune between witnesses about his teammates’ benefactions. Asked how the Grizzlies would prepare for the showdown with the Soldiers in just over 36 hours, Morant responded,” Go to sleep.”
After some teasing from Bane, Morant expanded on his plans.
” Go to sleep, wake up in the morning, trip and also lock in for the game.”
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