Timberwolves are not Just Happy to be in NBA Playoffs
The Minnesota Timberwolves will take on the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Their first-round NBA Playoffs matchup will be one of the most intriguing of the playoff season.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, TNT, FS North (Minnesota), AT&T SportsNet Southwest (Houston)
Oddsmakers opened the Rockets as -9-point favorites versus the Timberwolves, while the game's total opened at 218.5. The line is now Houston is favored by 11 and the total is down to 215.
Timberwolves Have Been in NBA Playoff Mode for a Week
The Timberwolves needed to scratch their way to an overtime victory on the final day of the regular season to clinch a playoff spot. It was the franchise's first since Kevin Garnett led the team to the 2004 Western Conference finals.
The Timberwolves' reward for that strong finish is a date with the NBA-best Houston Rockets, who host Game 1 of the first-round series on Sunday.
Minnesota has been in playoff mode for well over a week. They had to win its last three regular-season games to stay alive and clinch a spot in the postseason. All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler leading the way after coming back from knee injury.
Minnesota C Karl-Anthony Towns led the NBA with 68 double-doubles while averaging 21.3 points and 12.3 rebounds. Towns paced the team in points (1,743), rebounds (1,012), blocks (115) and 3-pointers (120). With Butler in the post, Minnesota might have a pace that could prevent Houston from its usually lethal combo of layups and open 3s.
Matching the Rockets offensively might be as sound a strategy as anything. The Timberwolves trying to defensively contain the Rockets is a tall order. Houston made more 3-pointers (1,256) than any team in NBA history. The Rockets actually attempted more 3s (3,470) than shots from inside the arc (3,446).
Rockets Helter Skelter Offense is Primed for NBA Playoffs
James Harden, who is the odds-on favorite to win his first MVP award, leads the Rockets. He led the league in scoring with an average of 30.4 points and adding 8.8 assists. The difference for the team this year's playoffs is that Harden has help. That help is future Hall of Famer, point guard Chris Paul.
Harden and Chris Paul ranked first and fourth in isolation points per possession. Center Clint Capela paced the league in field goal percentage at 65.2%. He is feasting on a healthy feed of lobs courtesy of the penetration Harden and Paul create. The open inside is because opponents are scrambling to defend the 3-point arc.
The Timberwolves finished 23rd in defensive efficiency during the regular season. Locking down the Rockets this series is a fool's mission. The Rockets are well aware of their potency. The Rockets potential to inflect damage by doing what they usually do is astounding.
NBA Playoffs Betting Trends
Minnesota at Houston Wednesday, April 18
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