Ja Morant, the NBA's newest poster boy, is no stranger to putting his opponents on a poster as well.

With a minute left in regulation when the Grizzlies star played the Timberwolves on Nov. 8, Morant batted away Jaden McDaniels' layup attempt at the glass. At the other end of the court, he blew past McDaniels to throw down a dunk over Patrick Beverley.

Morant scored seven points in a 54-second span at the end of the fourth to force overtime, and Memphis went on to win 125-118.

When the Wolves and Grizzlies tip off their first-round playoff series Saturday, all eyes will be on Morant.

"He's fearless," said Wolves coach Chris Finch. "That's what I love about him the most. He's absolutely fearless. He's an offensive microcosm onto himself. He lives in the heart of your defense in all the ways possible, transition and in the halfcourt."

In his third pro season, Morant has evolved into the superstar many suspected he would become after winning Rookie of the Year in 2020. He made his first All-Star Game appearance as a starter and guided Memphis to a 56-26 record, good for the second seed in the Western Conference and a second straight playoff appearance.

Morant, a 6-3 point guard, upped his points per game to 27.4 from 19.1 a year ago. He immortalized his campaign with two gravity-defying plays: a two-handed chase-down block on the Lakers' Avery Bradley and a Jordanesque slam over the Spurs' Jakob Poeltl.

"He's taken his game to the next level," said Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns. "He's found ways to finish in the paint at a higher rate. He's No. 1 in paint points. He's done a great job of utilizing his athletic ability and his God-given talents and his intangibles and his athleticism to his advantage."

Towns' and Morant's fathers are close friends, and Towns feels confident in his own friendship with Morant, but the two stars won't talk before Saturday's game. There's too much on the line in one of the NBA's budding rivalries.

Memphis and Minnesota faced off four times in the regular season, a series they split 2-2. Morant averaged 20 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists in those games, with a high of 33 points in that first game in November, although he shot just 3-for-20 from three-point range. The Wolves won the last matchup 119-114 on Feb. 24, and after the game Morant expressed admiration for Towns, Anthony Edwards and D'Angelo Russell.

"Probably my favorite team to play," Morant said of the Timberwolves. "They got guys that are bought in to what they want to do, win games with the three, big-time players that can score the ball at all three levels: Ant, KAT and D-Lo. Definitely a very tough team, and you can see it how they play each and every night."

He gets to play that favorite team under the biggest spotlight yet of his NBA career.