Sport

PBT Extra Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets

PBT Extra Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets”

Or, more specifically, James Harden did.

If you spent any time perusing National Basketball Association playoff predictions over the three days since the Timberwolves do-or-die victory over the Nuggets on Wednesday night, you probably noticed that not too many folks are giving the eighth-seeded Wolves a fighting chance to challenge the 65-win Rockets in the first round of the playoffs.

Houston overall finished the game shooting under 30 percent from deep.

The likely 2017-18 Most Valuable Player torched Minnesota down the stretch. When the Timberwolves took an 86-85 lead with 6:49 left in the fourth, Harden scored 11-straight points with a series of dizzying step-back threes that the Timberwolves could do nothing to stop.

The Rockets possess a bevy of players with long playoff resumes, while two of the Wolves' best players in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns will experience the playoffs for the very first time. The Wolves are 37-22 with Butler this year and 10-13 without him.

The Timberwolves kept it close to the end, with a late Rockets' turnover giving Minnesota the ball down three in the closing seconds, but Jimmy Butler's attempt at a game-tying 3-pointer fell woefully short. Outside of Clint Capela, there isn't anyone in Houston's regular rotation that would be able to slow down Towns, or even Taj Gibson for that matter.

That Houston team was led by Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Charles Barkley, and the Wolves featured Kevin Garnett, Stephon Marbury and Tom Gugliotta.

Houston average 122 points per game against the T-wolves, with an average margin of victory of 15 points.

It's tough to see Houston shooting as poorly as it did Sunday at any points through the remainder of the series, and the Wolves still couldn't take advantage. The Rockets had the NBA's best regular season record at 65-17 and won all four meetings with the Wolves handily.



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