This Western Conference showdown between the 4 seed and the 13 seed figures to be a real barn-burner. The Timberwolves may have had the fourth worst record in the conference last season, but you'd never know it from this 3 on 3 team.
The Memphis Grizzlies, the 4 seed, faced a real dilemma in picking their team. Arguably their three best players all play in the front court, but it would be pretty tough to send two forwards and a center out to play 3 on 3. Straight Outta Vancouver decided to leave Zach Randoph off the team and chose Tony Allen to join Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol. Allen's a great choice on the defensive end and Gay and Gasol are loaded with talent, but the Grizzlies still lack a playmaker on offense.
The Timberwolves were actually around .500 when Ricky Rubio was hurt last season, so it's not that surprising that this 3 on 3 team seems so much better than their seed (just like Derrick Rose, Rubio has made a remarkable recovery and is ready to go for the tourney). Kevin Love is a no-brainer on the team, and given that few players in the world can rebound or score with the guy, he's going to be a 3 on 3 monster. Add free agent Andrei Kirilenko to this group and it could be amazing. Rubio orchestrating, Love being awesome and Kirilenko doing a bit of everything. Nasty.
So what do our experts expect to happen?
- Tom Ziller, SB Nation NBA, Sactown Royalty -- Teams split 10 games each
- Andrew Sharp, SB Nation NBA -- Minnesota wins 15 of 20
- Steve Perrin, SB Nation NBA, Clips Nation -- Minnesota wins 12 of 20
- Frank Madden, Brew Hoop -- Minnesota wins 13 of 20
- J.A. Sherman, Welcome to Loud City -- Minnesota wins 13 of 20
- Overall probabilities -- Memphis 37 percent; Minnesota 63 percent
I don't know how to judge Andrei Kirilenko back in the NBA until we see him, but I know he'd be some kind of monster in a three-on-three game. -- Ziller
Let's see.... The big man who can score from all over the court AND outrebound everyone, one of the best passers on earth, and a defensive swiss army knife. They're playing a smaller defensive swiss army knife, a timid wing who can't score in bunches OR stop anyone, and Marc Gasol, who is... Well okay, Marc Gasol is awesome. Still, I don't understand how this would be close. -- Sharp
I really love this Wolves team. In fact, with the Clippers facing the winner of this one, I love this team so much I'm really, really worried. -- Perrin
This match-up would really come down to how effectively the Grizzlies can run an offense through Marc Gasol. Since they don't have a dedicated point guard, they would have to initiate their offense from the high post and hope that Gay can hit enough open shots working off the ball to keep things competitive. However, I think the Wolves get the nod because with Rubio, they would be able to generate much more 'easy' points than the Grizzlies do, with Love in particular really showing a penchant for how to get open when he works with Rubio. Love also has the ability to pull his man Gasol 23 feet away from the rim, which would create all sorts of problems with Allen and Gay trying to slow down Rubio's drives and dishes. -- Sherman
The Bottom Line
Are we looking at the first big upset of this tournament? The experts seem to think so, giving the 13 seed a 63 percent chance against a 4 seed. We've seen a couple of 9 seeds advance, but a 9-8 game is usually a pick-em, and in this tournament with those leftover teams the 9 seeds were anything but patsies. At any rate we haven't seen a double digit seed move on yet.
Of course this Timberwolves 3 on 3 team bears little resemblance to the team that got them a 13 seed. Rubio was injured and Kirilenko was in Russia.
The dice will determine the outcome. Since Memphis is the better seed, we list their percentage first, and that's the number we're looking for on each roll of the dice. A 37 or lower is a Memphis win, 38 or higher is a Minnesota win.
Who do you think will win this best two out of three?
The results will be posted later this afternoon.
For a complete look at the SB Nation 3 on 3 Tournament, check back with this StoryStream.