Rockets Prepared to Launch on Wednesday vs. Wolves

harden

Swinging Johnson

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 1:47 PM UTC

Tuesday, Apr. 17, 2018 1:47 PM UTC

Houston had its hands full in Game 1 with eighth-seeded Minnesota, but when the dust settled the West's top seed won 104-101. Let’s evaluate the encore performance to see which side is poised to cash.

NBA Wednesday: By The NumbersTimberwolves (47-36 SU, 39-41-3 ATS) vs. Rockets (66-17 SU, 41-40-2 ATS)Free NBA Pick: Rockets -10½Best Line Offered: Skybook

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What's Trending
  • Houston is 13-5 ATS against Northwest division opponents this season.
  • Houston is 17-10 ATS when playing against a team with a winning record in the 2nd half of the season.
  • Houston is 39-35 ATS as a favorite this season.
  • Minnesota is 13-16 ATS in the second half of the season.
  • Minnesota is 12-16 ATS as an underdog this season.
  • Minnesota is 18-22 ATS in road games this season.

Game Analysis

James Harden donned his Superman cape on Sunday and had he decided to remain Clark Kent, the Timberwolves could very well be in command of this series. However, Harden did what Harden usually does and that is step up when everyone else is stepping down. The Houston captain scored 44 points while center Clint Capela hauled in 12 boards to lead the way to a closely contested 104-101 win and enter Game 2 with the series lead.

Things appeared to be trending in Houston’s direction after exiting the first half with a seven-point lead, but Minnesota buckled down and outscored the Rockets in the second half. Andrew Wiggins had a solid performance with 18 points to lead the Timberwolves as he picked up the slack for Karl-Anthony Towns, who was held to just eight points, significantly less than his 21.3 points per game average. Jimmy Butler also had a relatively modest output, bucketing just 13 points and missing a game-tying three-pointer at the final buzzer.

A quick check of the NBA odds board tells us that the online sportsbooks are relatively undeterred by the competitive nature of Game 1 as Houston is still a double-digit favorite in Game 2, albeit a 10½- versus 11½-point favorite from the opening game. That’s not all that surprising considering the regular-season history between these two clubs. Houston not only swept the regular season but covered the number and cashed in each and every game for all those who backed them in their NBA picks. The Rockets, before Sunday’s contest, won by an average margin of 15.7 points per game, which makes their Game 1 victory more of an aberration than the rule between these two Western Conference rivals.

Perhaps the most glaring deficiency in Houston’s game was their lack of success from beyond the arc. The Rockets connected on just 10 of 37 3-pointers (27 percent), a stark decline from their regular-season average of 36 percent. Consider that Trevor Ariza, Eric Gordon, Gerald Green, Chris Paul, and P.J. Tucker combined made only three of their 25 three-point shots while Harden rescued that dismal average by connecting on 7-of-12 from three-point land.

Defensively you have to tip your cap to the T-Wolves, having held the explosive Houston offense to eight points below their season average. But that won’t happen this time around. Houston had an off-night and still won the game. Minnesota won’t be nearly as lucky on Wednesday night and we suspect Game 2 will more closely resemble their regular-season clashes than the game we witnessed on Sunday night. Lay the lumber and back the Rockets.

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