A golden opportunity awaits the memphis grizzlies in the western

    minneapolis: ja morant and desmond bane sat next to each other friday night talking to reporters after the memphis grizzlies finished off the minnesota timberwolves 114-106 at target center.

    The duo were tired after a long and grueling six-game series, but Morant said it was time to move on. Time is short, with Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals scheduled to kick off Sunday (2:30 PM, ABC) at the FedExForum in Memphis.

    Reading: A golden opportunity awaits the memphis grizzlies in the western

    The next page is a meeting with no. The 3-seed Golden State Warriors, who have what many consider to be the best defense in the last seven years with Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. The Splash Brothers built their name as elite shooters, but the young, second-seeded duo from Memphis are doing it a different way, with complementary basketball inside and out.

    Now, the grizzly rear end has some things it wants the world to know about it.

    “We’re assassins, man,” Bane said.

    “true headhunters,” morant added. “We feel like we’re also one of the best defenders in the league.”

    giannotto: the memphis grizzlies were ruthless with minnesota. They must be better than the golden state.

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    just like the splash brothers, morant and bane are growing up together. They were drafted a year apart and now have a golden opportunity to make their case as one of the best defensemen in the league.

    morant struggled as a scorer in the first round, while the timberwolves’ athletic frontcourt made it difficult for him around the rim. Bane took over, scoring 24 points per game on 50% shooting, 48% shooting from 3-point range, and 90% from the free throw line.

    “if you ask me, the mvp for this series would be this guy right here,” morant said looking at bane. “

    both players finished in the top five in the nba’s most improved voting, with morant earning the honors.

    morant pointed out that it’s more than him and bane, and that’s true. tyus jones hit big shots to close out minnesota in game 6 and has been one of the best point guards in basketball.

    early on friday of the third quarter, defensive pest patrick beverley switched to bane and the timber wolves charged into the paint every time morant drove the ball. Someone else had to step up, and Dillon Brooks had 23 points on 9-of-19 shooting before fouling out. Brooks struggled just one game earlier, when he shot 3-for-18 overall and 1-for-10 on 3-pointers.

    “I think they thought I was going to go 1-for-10 again,” Brooks said. “I’m a pro, I figure things out. We’ve got a four-headed monster on our team. They take out des, they take out ha, me and (jaren jackson jr.) will find ways to get the guys involved, and that’s what we did.” .

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    jackson finally got a chance to show what he could do in this series without persistent foul problems. he finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks.

    Like the Grizzlies’ backcourt, Jackson’s defensive performance will likely be measured against former Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green. The first step for Jackson will be availability. Friday was the only playoff game in which he played more than 30 minutes this season.

    “I feel like we need that (jackson) thing every game,” brooks said. “Try to keep him playing at that level. Find a way to play without fouling, so we need him on that floor.”

    the grizzlies demonstrated their resistance against the timber wolves. they came back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to win three games. no other team had done it twice in a series.

    Now, the games will be more difficult. it will require more than resilience.

    For a team that is the second youngest in the nba, this is a chance to highlight its young stars against an older core that was once the toast of the league.

    contact damichael cole at [email protected] and on twitter @damichaelc

    this article originally appeared on memphis commercial appeal: the memphis grizzlies are turning the page on the golden state series

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