Who should Grizzlies fans be rooting for in Laker-Wolves play-in?

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports /

The Grizzlies may not be playing tonight, but they still have things to pay attention to as the play-in tournament begins. Who should they want to see win, the Lakers or the Timberwolves? 

The NBA regular season is officially over, and in past year’s that would mean the Grizzlies would already be preparing for their first-round playoff opponent. Thanks to the NBA’s play-in tournament, however, they now have to sit back and watch the Lakers and Timberwolves battle it out Tuesday night to earn the right to face Memphis. Whether you enjoy the play-in or not, it adds a little more drama to the regular season. More basketball is also something most will not complain about.

With that being said, does the winner of this game dramatically change how likely the Grizzlies are to advance? Prior to the last game of the season, an argument could be made for either team to be the one they don’t want to see, but not anymore.

Grizzlies should want to face Wolves in round 1

I could (and will later) get into the specifics of who the Grizzlies should want to see in the first round of the playoffs, but let’s put it simply. Would you rather face a team headlined by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, or one that sent their prized offseason addition home for punching a teammate? Oh, and that team also lost a starting forward thanks to him fracturing his hand in a fight with a wall. Seems pretty straightforward if you ask me.

Obviously, the Timberwolves would be the ideal team to face even without the recent issues they are dealing with. Taking his jab at Kyle Anderson away, Rudy Gobert still had a challenging first season in Minnesota after the monster trade from the Jazz. Karl-Anthony Towns missed most of the season. They just lost Jaden McDaniels to the aforementioned broken hand. They are also significantly worse at defending the three than LA, giving Luke Kennard and the rest of the Grizzlies an advantage. They are a mess right now, and would likely serve as a good first opponent for the Grizzlies as they sort out their playoff rotation.

The Lakers could be a challenging round 1 opponent

The Lakers may not be the powerhouse they are always expected to be this season, but they did a great job rebuilding the roster mid-season to give themselves a fighting chance in the playoffs. Adding D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt has raised their floor and allowed their stars to not have to be the entire offense or defense. They really took off after the All-Star break, going 16-7 after being 27-32 prior to the festivities. They were that good even with LeBron missing time with a foot injury.

The Grizzlies should still be favored in a potential matchup with LA, but the series would be much more competitive than one against the Wolves. No disrespect to Anthony Edwards and Grizzlies legend Mike Conley, but they just don’t have the same potential as a healthy Lakers team. With Rudy Gobert suspended for the game tonight, all signs point to a Lakers-Grizzlies first-round battle. If you are a fan watching tonight, however, you should be doing your best Timberwolves fan impression.