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Houston Rockets vs Minnesota Timberwolves: Game 3 Preview and Prediction

Eric Rosales

by Eric Rosales in NBA Basketball

Apr 20, 2018 · 9:16 AM PDT

Houston's James Harden
James Harden is looking to bounce back in a big way in Game 3 against the Timberwolves. Photo by David Santiago/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire
  • Houston has been overpowering the Timberwolves with its system, and depth
  • Karl Anthony-Towns has gone AWOL at the worst possible time
  • The Rockets are seeking a 3-0 series lead as the series shifts to Minnesota

After a Game 2 whitewash to take a 2-0 series lead, the top-seeded Houston Rockets take their show on the road and try to make quick work of the beleaguered Minnesota Timberwolves.

Here’s the scary part: Houston hasn’t even played that well this series. Sure, James Harden torched Minny for 44 in Game 1, but that was a one possession game till the end. In Game 2, Harden shot a paltry 2-of-18 from the field, and the Rockets still romped by 20.

Chris Paul did Chris Paul things, but the big spark came off the bench in the way of Gerald Green, who was unstoppable en route to a 21-point outburst.

There was some rumblings of a Rockets upset because of the potential of these young Wolves with the presence of Jimmy Butler, but the team has collapsed under the pressure.

It starts with Karl Anthony-Towns. The All-Star big man has scored 13 points in two games, including a paltry five in a critical Game 2. What’s worse, is that he’s been ultra-passive, taking just nine shots in each game. That’s not going to get it done.

The Rockets’ game plan appears to be to let Andrew Wiggins take the majority of the shots, and it’s been effective. Wiggins has averaged 14.5 attempts per game and is averaging just 15.5 points – and that leads the team in scoring.

Couple those two with Butler not looking fully right since coming back from a knee injury and they’re in serious trouble. What else can explain this Game 1 snafu in the clutch?

Houston Rockets vs Minnesota Timberwolves Team Stats

OFFENSE

Rockets
VS
Timberwolves
112.2 Offensive Rating 110.8
112.4 Points 109.5
21.5 Assists 22.7
46.0 Field-Goal Percentage 47.6
36.2 Three-Point Percentage 35.7
+8.5 Plus/Minus +2.2

*Stats do not include the playoffs

DEFENSE

Rockets
VS
Timberwolves
103.8 Defensive Rating 108.4
103.9 Points 107.3
+1.5 Rebounding Differential +0.2
-0.8 Turnover Differential -2.8
46.2 Field-Goal Percentage 47.5
35.1 Three-Point Percentage 36.6
40.9 Points In The Paint 49.2

*Stats do not include the playoffs

Head-to-Head Results

Date Location Score Winner
April 18 – Playoff HOU 102-82 HOU
April 15 – Playoff HOU 104-101 HOU
Mar. 18 – Regular Season MIN 129-120 HOU
Feb. 23 – Regular Season HOU 120-102 HOU
Feb. 11 – Regular Season MIN 126-108 HOU
Jan. 18 – Regular Season HOU 116-98 HOU

Houston has dominated the Wolves this year, winning all six matchups. Minus Game 1 where the deficit was three points, the Rockets have won each game by an average score of 118-102.

It should be noted that Towns averaged 23.8 points and 14.8 rebounds against Houston in his team’s four regular season losses.

Notable Injuries and Absences

Rockets Timberwolves
Ryan Anderson (shoulder): OUT Justin Patton (foot): OUT
Luc Mbah a Moute (shoulder): OUT

 Straight Up Advice: Rockets (128-115)

Minnesota has had their chances, but expect Houston to improve on their below-average shooting of 29.2% from three point range and 41% from the field. This team was an offensive juggernaut in the regular season, putting up 112 points a contest.

The Timberwolves haven’t met their statistical standards either. This was a team that shot 47% from the field and averaged nearly 110 points a game. So far, they’ve put up 91 points on 41% shooting.

To make matters worse, of the five Timberwolves scoring in double figures, four of them are below their season average, and all five are shooting below 50%.

If there was any silver lining, it’s that Minnesota is 30-11 at home this season, so there should be a better effort. But not so fast: Houston was an NBA-best 31-10 on the road.

Expect Harden to bounce back in a big way, and for things to get out of hand early as the Rockets roll.

Team Trends

Rockets Timberwolves
Houston is 31-10 SU on the road Minnesota is 30-11 SU at home
Houston is 7-3 SU in its last ten games Minnesota is 5-5 SU in its last ten games
Houston is 2-5-0 SU as underdog Minnesota is 4-4-0 SU as home underdog
Houston is 34-30-1 ATS after a win Minnesota is 16-17-2 ATS after a loss
Houston is 41-41-1 ATS this season (50.0%) Minnesota is 38-42-3 ATS this season (47.5%)
Houston is 24-17-0 ATS on the road Minnesota is 20-19-2 ATS at home

Additional SU Picks (April 21st)

It’s a packeed four-game slate on Saturday, including the Miami Heat trying to get things back on track as they host the 76ers in Game 4 of their series.

 Match-Up SU Pick
76ers vs Heat – Game 4 Heat
Trail Blazers vs Pelicans – Game 4  Pelicans
Thunder vs Jazz – Game 3  Jazz

 

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