Minnesota series might be best thing to happen to the Grizzlies

Just listen to Steph Curry right after the Golden State Warriors beat the Denver Nuggets Wednesday night.

Just listen to the star player on the team that awaits the Memphis Grizzlies if they get past the Minnesota Timberwolves, the one with three NBA championships and 20 playoff series wins to his credit.

Just listen because then the angst here in Memphis generated by this taut first-round series, and the significance of these next 72 hours or so, make a lot more sense.

“We forgot what it felt like to try to close out a game,” Curry said immediately after the clinching Game 5 win over Denver. “The nerves, the energy in the building, honestly the pressure … it’s been a long time since we felt this. We still know how to do it, but you had to kind of grind it out. It’s a good feeling.”

This version of the Grizzlies doesn’t know how to do it. Not yet.

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Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr. and everyone else on this roster not named Kyle Anderson or Steven Adams, they’ve never closed out a playoff series before.

Their first chance arrives Friday (8 pm, ESPN) in Minneapolis when Memphis and the Timberwolves play Game 6. The Grizzlies lead 3-2 in this increasingly dramatic series. Another game awaits Sunday (2:30 pm, ABC) at FedExForum, depending on the outcome. Either it’s the first Game 7 of the Morant era, or it’ll be the first game of a Western Conference semifinals series against Curry’s Warriors.

Apr 26, 2022;  Memphis, Tennessee, USA;  Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane (22) attempts a three-point field goal while being guarded by Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards (1) during the first half of game five of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at FedExForum.  Mandatory Credit: Christine Tannous-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of what’s to come, whether Memphis finishes off Minnesota or not, there is an undeniable truth that should help deal with the nerves and doubt brought on by how vulnerable the Grizzlies have looked to start this postseason run.

Perhaps fending off Minnesota quickly and soundly would have always been a preferable path in the near term. But for the sake of this franchise, for the sake of the future, what’s happening to the Grizzlies, the grueling and gut-wrenching nature of this matchup, might be the best thing that could have happened to them.

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