By Pauleen Le

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Timberwolves take on the Memphis Grizzlies in a must-win game six Friday night in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Grizzlies lead the series 3-2 and the Wolves are looking for a win to force a game seven.

With so much pressure riding on Friday’s game many players in the league are turning to their faith to stay grounded.

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Most teams in the NBA have a team chaplain who lead chapel 15 minutes before each game where both teams are invited. The Wolves have two chaplains: Matt Moberg and Chris Thibodeaux. They take turns leading chapel for home games in addition to making themselves available anytime players want to talk.

Anthony Edwards #1 of the Minnesota Timberwolves drives to the basket against Desmond Bane #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies.  (credit: Justin Ford/Getty Images)

Moberg had been a part of the team for a three seasons, while Thibodeaux has been a team chaplain for two seasons.

They said just a couple of players would come talk to them when they first started whereas now, they’re up to 15 players.

They said it’s more about providing an extra support system for the team.

“The first thing we say when the guys walk into the room is, ‘Who you are is more important than what you do even if what you do gets more attention than who you are,’” said Moberg. “That’s a simple saying, but it’s the baseline breakdown of saying your identity cannot be based on and relied upon the past box score that you just produced.”

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“We’re not there to really push religion and drive that down someone’s throat,” Thibodeaux added. “Yes, we have the angle that we believe God loves you and Jesus loves you, but we really want to bring hope and confidence.”

They say, despite getting paid millions of dollars, players are facing a lot of pressure both on and off the court.

“You just have to remember they’re human beings and no matter the title — from a CEO to a player on the court, it doesn’t matter — everyone has something they have to focus on in life and when that pressure comes, you need someone,” Thibodeaux said.

Moberg said it one of the most surprising things he’s learned about the team as chaplain is how relatable the players are.

“To spend your life chasing after a peak only to realize that once you get to the top it still can kind of feel like a valley,” he said. “There’s some different shadow pieces inside of that space, a new kind of loneliness, a new kind of challenge of who do I let in and all the pressure that falls on you.”

Thibodeaux is leading chapel ahead of game six. He said theme will be: “It’s not over.”

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Tip-off for game six is 8 p.m. Friday.

Pauleen Le