Warriors fans can turn allegiance to T-Wolves, for now originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — Warriors players won’t say it. Neither will the coaches or the front office. Well, not publicly.
The truth is, with their first-round NBA playoff series against the Denver Nuggets wrapped up, the franchise and its fans should now be rooting for the Minnesota Timberwolves to beat the Memphis Grizzies. At least for Friday’s Game 6 at Target Center.
“Getting to the playoffs and getting through a series, winning four games against a good team — it’s hard,” Steph Curry said Wednesday night after the Warriors’ 102-98 Game 5 win over the Nuggets. “Every team wants to be in this position at the end of the year.”
In their first-round battle against each other, both the Grizzlies and T-Wolves are learning firsthand just how hard winning a playoffs series is. They’re two teams full of young stars and full of inexperience. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green had to go through six hard-fought games against the San Antonio Spurs of a young Kawhi Leonard, along with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in 2013, plus taking the Lob City LA Clippers to seven games in 2014 before reaching five straight Finals starting in 2015.
Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and others now are going through the ringer. Morant and the Grizzlies were expected to have little to no trouble facing the T-Wolves in the first round. They were the young, exciting team all season that looked ready to make the leap in the playoffs.
The postseason is a different ballgame, though. And the Grizzlies shouldn’t even still be here. This series should have ended in five games with the No. 7-seeded T-Wolves upsetting the No. 2 seed.
Minnesota led by as many as 26 points in Game 3 before losing by nine. In Game 5, they led by 13 at one point, went into the fourth quarter up by 11 and completely crumbled in the final minutes of a two-point loss. Instead of winning the series in five games, the T-Wolves face elimination on Friday night.
If the Grizzlies finish off the T-Wolves in Game 6, the Warriors will have to board a flight Saturday to Memphis and start the Western Conference semifinals on the road with Game 1 being Sunday afternoon. But if Minnesota can make this series continue, these two teams would meet Sunday in Memphis and the Warriors wouldn’t have to play again until Tuesday. The more rest, the better for this veteran Warriors squad.
That should be the first goal for Warriors fans tuning in with nothing better to do on a Friday night.
The next hope would be the T-Wolves beating the Grizzlies in a Game 7. Not so much because the Warriors should want to face them over the Grizzlies by a large margin, but moreso because the Warriors would maintain homecourt advantage for another round. That was their biggest goal in finishing as a top-four Western Conference team in the regular season, and if they can, they would continue avoiding flights as much as possible.
The Warriors went 1-3 against the Grizzlies in the regular season, and just 2-2 vs. the T-Wolves. They also went 1-3 against the Nuggets, just beat them in five games and had an opportunity to sweep them. Golden State looks plenty capable of taking care of business against either of its next opponent.
Having the Warriors’ next game be Tuesday instead of Sunday also wouldn’t hurt.
RELATED: Steph saves best for last in Warriors’ series-clinching win
As Steve Kerr spoke to reporters an hour-and-a-half before the start of the Warriors’ Game 3 matchup one week ago in Denver, he couldn’t help but look up and to his right here and there at the TV. Game 3 of Minnesota and Memphis’ series was on, and the T-Wolves were trouncing the Grizzlies at the time. Reminder: This is the game where they blew a 26-point lead.
Now, Kerr and the rest of the Warriors can turn their full attention to Friday night’s Game 6 in Minnesota. Don’t blame him or anybody else in the franchise if there’s a golf clap with each T-Wolves bucket.
Fingers crossed they can actually hold onto a lead.
Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast