Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#4765 Memphis Grizzlies vs.
#4766 Minnesota Timberwolves
Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at 8:00pm EST
Target Center, Minneapolis
Written by Jordy

A visit to Struggleville will be on tap for Wednesday’s Western Conference meeting between the Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves. The injury-plagued Grizzlies have won back-to-back games against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets to squash a three-game losing streak. Minnesota, on the other hand, is coming off a 96-88 victory at home over the San Antonio Spurs.

Grizzlies showing resilience in another tough season

Every day gets the Grizzlies another step closer for the long-awaited return of the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, Ja Morant. He has been nursing a sprained ankle, and he recently teased a workout in a shootaround ahead of the Grizzlies’ first meeting with the Cavs.

In only three games this season, the star guard is averaging a team-high 26.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists. Along with Morant, the Grizzlies are also awaiting the debut of Justise Winslow, who was acquired in a trade last February. He has been sidelined with an injured hip that stems all the way back to July 2020.

There’s still some eagerness to find out exactly how good the Grizzlies can be when all of their pieces are on the floor together. Unfortunately for Memphis, that day won’t come in time for Wednesday’s meeting with the Timberwolves.

The Grizzlies have shown some resilience in their ability to string together a couple of wins after dropping three consecutive losses. They’ll try to extend their current win streak to three games against a Timberwolves team that could have Karl-Anthony Towns back on the floor. His return would create all sorts of problems for the Grizzlies’ front court. Not only is he an elite defender, but he can also be a prolific scorer with the ball in his hands. Slowing him down will be a huge test for Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas. Memphis is ranked third in the entire league in defensive efficiency, and they’ll have an opportunity to show why against Minnesota’s 22nd-ranked scoring offense.

Speaking of scoring, Memphis will be basically visiting an all-you-can-eat basket buffet against the Timberwolves. They are allowing an average 118.8 points per game with opposing teams shooting 48.6 percent from the floor against them. Dillon Brooks and company should be able to feast in this game.

Timberwolves erring on the side of caution with Towns

Many wondered what happened to star center Karl-Anthony Towns in the second part of the Timberwolves’ weekend-long doubleheader against the Spurs. After returning from a wrist injury on Saturday, the Timberwolves’ big-man was nowhere to be found on Sunday. It seems as if the team opted to sit him in an effort to manage his workload. The former two-time NBA All-Star is expected to be back on the floor in a full-time role for Wednesday’s game against the Grizzlies.

That’s the first major sigh of relief the Timberwolves can breathe.

The second comes with the matchup against a Grizzlies team that hasn’t looked great offensively. Maybe the Timberwolves’ atrocious defense can finally catch a break. Granted, they hope their defense improves to some degree with Towns back on the floor. It obviously can’t get any worse than it is right now with the team having the third-worst defense in the league in efficiency. Even with a losing record, it would be pretty embarrassing to see them get lit up by the starless Grizzlies.

The game could come down to Minnesota’s ability to assert themselves more on the offensive end of the floor. That’s the only rational response to playing bad on defense. So far they haven’t even been able to do that right, and they’ll be facing a Grizzlies team that can still lock things down without their best player. D’Angelo Russell, along with Towns, will need a star caliber performance to fend off Memphis.

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Much like last season, the Timberwolves have been an accident waiting to happen on offense this year, but they’ll be facing a Grizzlies team that isn’t in the best position to take advantage of those struggles right now. Morant is still on the shelf, and the team is still desperately searching for an identity on the offensive end of the floor.

Even for a bad defensive team, Towns being back on the floor makes the Timberwolves significantly better. His presence in the paint will make Grizzlies players think twice about driving to the rim. The two-point game is the base of Memphis’ offense with the team playing with the third-worst 3-point shooting percentage in the league.

Towns also gives the Timberwolves another offensive playmaker that can go get 20-plus points on any given night. He missed six games and then dropped 25 points, 13 rebounds and four assists in his return last Saturday. It was as if he never left.

The same will hold true on Wednesday night, unfortunately for the Grizzlies, as the Timberwolves knock off their injury-riddled Western Conference foes for their third home win of the season. The Timberwolves have only won one game on the road this year. They won’t waste this chance for victory. I’m laying the points and taking Minnesota.

Prediction: Minnesota Timberwolves (-2.5)

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Before Sunday’s game against the Spurs, the Timberwolves had allowed 123-points in their last seven games. That isn’t a statistic to be proud of this early in the season, and it’s one that stands out regardless of the opposition. There have been times when the Grizzlies have thrown up enough bricks to build a house. They haven’t been consistent enough on offense to compete against some of the better defensive teams in the league.

But the Timberwolves clearly aren’t one of those teams.

They’ll get their offense going in this game, even without Morant on the floor, and the Timberwolves will respond on the other end with a returning Towns. A healthy Minnesota team is no joke this season, and they’ll prove it on Wednesday. Give me the over in this one.

Prediction: Over (220)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast, and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY, and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys, and all the Sun Drop you can drink.