Saturday, 23 February, 2019

Can the Timberwolves beat the Rockets? 5 keys to the upset

Can the Timberwolves beat the Rockets? 5 keys to the upset Can the Timberwolves beat the Rockets? 5 keys to the upset
Melinda Barton | 16 April, 2018, 14:54

While it's fair to say that the Rockets had most teams' numbers this season, the fact remains that it's hard to argue with a sweep. James Harden has played in one NBA Finals and doesn't have a ring.

First things first: The Minnesota Timberwolves are not merely happy to be in the playoffs for the first time since 2004, despite the prevailing narrative regarding their presence. Chris Paul reached the postseason nine previous times in his career.

No. 4: Tenacious Towns-Karl-Anthony Towns averaged 23.8 points and 14.8 rebounds in four meetings with the Rockets this season. The Rockets shot 37.8 percent from the field and hit 13 of 46 three point attempts.

While Minnesota possesses more talent than the average 8-seed, beating the Rockets four times in seven games is almost impossible, especially when considering they lost only three games with James Harden, Clint Capela and Paul in the lineup during the regular season. Score more points than them, sure, that's it.

The actual points-per-game comparison is moot because Capela is not asked to be a major scoring option in this offense and that he only needs to nail open shots and, of course, accurately throw down the plethora of lobs that are thrown to him. "We didn't wake up this morning like, 'Hey, we're going to go to Houston.' We woke up saying we're going to go to Houston and get the job done". But it wouldn't stun me if this series goes six games or more.

The Houston Rockets open what's expected to be a long run in the 2018 National Basketball Association playoffs Sunday against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves.

I can't shake how helpless the Wolves looked at times against the Rockets. Then again, this wasn't a normal season in the West with the Wolves winning 47 games at that spot. No chance. Or at least an infinitesimally small one.

While Harden was on fire, the rest of the Rockets struggled from the three-point line. He's been a great defensive player for the Rockets this year who brings versatility. For reference, that mark is well behind the Magic, which was last in the league at.756 percent. The Houston Rockets are allowing 35.1 percent shooting from deep and are grabbing 43.5 rebounds per game.

For the Wolves to win this series, the defense suddenly has to transform into a top-five unit and the leaky rebounding has to stop.

Karl-Anthony Towns averaged 21.3 points per contest this season while collecting an average of 12.3 boards per game.