Minnesota Timberwolves: 5 keys to series vs. Rockets


I'm taking the over in this spot, as it's a popular trend when these teams meet and both of these clubs can get what they want offensively.

The Wolves get the 1-seeded Houston Rockets in the first round of the Playoffs. The Timberwolves haven't been to the playoffs since the 2003-04 season. Their other meeting came in Minnesota's first trip in 1997, when the Timberwolves were swept in three games.

The Rockets were dominant in the regular season and won a franchise-high 65 games to finish top of the pile in the Western Conference. Before he did, he asked Towns to promise that he'd lead the Timberwolves back to the playoffs. Houston averaged more than 17 made 3-pointers a game in its four wins over Minnesota.

Defensively, he's going to have to play the series of his life handling Paul and Harden off the pick and roll and guarding against the lob when the Rockets' guards penetrate.

"We expect nothing but greatness from ourselves", Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns said. The Rockets are just 13-8 without him (52-9 with him). Eric Gordon is the third double-digit scorer and Clint Capela is grabbing 10.8 rebounds. Towns had 12 rebounds and two assists. The Rockets are tied for 6 in scoring defense as they allow 103.9 points per game. Even with Luc Mbah a Moute's shoulder injury and with him expected to miss the next few weeks, this team will be fine in competition with their respective opponent. The Rockets are 15 in the league in field goal percentage, shooting 46 percent as a team.

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That's according to former Boston Celtics star Brian Scalabrine, who points to the Cleveland Cavaliers' poor defensive rating this season.

The Timberwolves will have to circle the wagons against an opponent that blitzed them four times during the regular season.

Most consider the first round matchup between Houston and Minnesota to be a total formality and that the Rockets should be able to handle the T'Wolves pretty handily. That combination easily downs what the Timberwolves bring to the table: throw in the experience factor along with home court and Houston takes Game 1 with ease. There's not a lot of reliable depth for Minnesota.

Early money poured in on Houston, sending the line to 11.5. Can Minnesota find secondary scoring and slow Houston's perimeter barrage?