Game 3: Rockets Won’t Fail to Launch in Minnesota

rockets wolves

Swinging Johnson

Friday, April 20, 2018 3:14 PM UTC

Friday, Apr. 20, 2018 3:14 PM UTC

Houston has held serve and takes a 2-0 series lead into Minnesota on Saturday night while the NBA odds board is reflecting the home team as decided underdogs in this pivotal clash. 

Game 3: Rockets (67-17 SU, 42-40-2 ATS) at Timberwolves (47-37 SU, 39-42-3 ATS)Free NBA Pick: Rockets -5Best Line offered: SkyBook

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  • Minnesota is 5-6 ATS after a loss by 10 points or more.
  • Minnesota is 19-20 ATS revenging a loss vs opponent.
  • Minnesota is 12-17 ATS as an underdog this season.
  • Houston is 14-5 ATS against Northwest division opponents.
  • Houston is 24-16 ATS in road games this season.
  • Houston is 5-1 ATS versus Minnesota this season.

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💯 🤘 pic.twitter.com/x12Ruz89RW

— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) April 20, 2018
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Anyone who routinely reads my game analysis on SBR’s NBA picks page may recall my prediction on Wednesday night’s Game 2 matchup in Houston. After watching the series opener in which Minnesota fell 104-101 as 11½ point road dogs, it was a tough pill to swallow when asked to back the Rockets -10½ in the following game against an opponent that had nearly upset them only three days earlier. But as I stated, the Rockets had a terrible shooting night, and those occasions are the exception rather than the rule for a team that was second in points scored during the regular season.

Fortunately, my prediction was proven accurate in terms of the Rockets beating the spread in a 102-82 destruction of the Timberwolves in Game 2, but it did not go as planned. James Harden had one of the worst shooting performances in recent memory when he went 2-of-18 from the field and ended with just 12 points on the evening. However, what he did on defense atoned for what he didn’t do on offense. In fact, the entire Houston team clamped down on the Minnesota offense like a pitbull on a Chihuahua. Essentially, the Rockets turned the tables on their foes from Game 1 when Minnesota tried to do the same thing with a whole lot of help from Houston’s poor offensive performance.

Now we find ourselves in Game 3, where Houston can nearly seal the deal with a victory on the road Saturday night. If they win, can anyone expect Minnesota to do their best Lazarus impression and come back from the dead to sweep four straight from arguably the best basketball team on the planet? Particularly when one considers that Houston has won 12 of their last 13 games played against Minnesota and is 6-0 straight up 5-1 ATS this season? The Timberwolves will be desperate, this we know, but the bottom line is that they have neither the talent nor the depth to compete with Houston. It’s clear that the Rockets can kick it into high gear whenever they please as they did after the first quarter of Game 2 in which they were outscored 23-18. The defense did their part, but the offense was erratic. So, they responded with a 37-17 second quarter and that was that.

Don’t expect only 12 points from Harden on Saturday night. What you should expect is more offensive fireworks from his All-Star counterpart Chris Paul, who netted 27 and shot over 55 percent from the field in the Game 2 victory. Even backup Gerald Green had a playoff career high with 21 points off the bench. The Rockets’ defense often gets overshadowed by their prolific offense, but remember this is a defense that ranked sixth in the league, allowing just 103.9 PPG. Houston has had no problem winning and covering in Minnesota this season. They won both regular-season meetings at the Target Center by an average of 13½ points, and after a quick check of the NBA odds offered at Skybook we see they are hanging Houston -5. That’s a number we can live with as we watch the Rockets launch on Saturday night on ESPN.

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