Rockets beat T-Wolves 104-101 in playoff series opener

Rockets beat T-Wolves 104-101 in playoff series opener

They are the overwhelming favorites going into the first round of the playoffs. He's done all this while leading the Rockets to the best record in the National Basketball Association and top seed in the Western Conference.

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.

BC-BKN-Timberwolves-Rockets, 1st Ld-Writethru, 670Harden scores 44 points, Rockets beat Wolves 104-101AP Photo NVJL114, NVJL119, NVJL105, NVJL103, NVJL101, NVJL106Eds: APNewsNow.

Minnesota, dominated by the Rockets during the four-game regular season series, led 86-85 on two free throws from Jamal Crawford (15 points) with 6:49 remaining. They have two All-Stars in the team - Karl-Anthony Towns and the returning Jimmy Butler.

This will be an interesting thing to keep an eye on in the playoffs with the Rockets - seeing how often its bigs switching onto Harden and how much he makes them pay. They shot 47.6 % from the field during the regular season (tied for the fourth-best shooting percentage of any team, only behind the Warriors, Pelicans and the Bucks) and are the second-best FT shooting team in the league, only behind the Warriors. It's impossible to stop their offense entirely but the Minnesota bigs are going to have to at least consistently apply pressure, get hands in shooters' faces, and not give them the easy looks.

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

Houston will be without Luc Mbah a Moute, who dislocated his shoulder and is set to miss the entire first round.

Depth goes a long way in the postseason and that's something that Tom Thibodeau has not really relied on in Minnesota. He carried Houston in the second half like Capela did in the first. Can Minnesota find secondary scoring and slow Houston's perimeter barrage?

The over is 4-1 in the Timberwolves' last 5 Sunday games and 11-3 in their last 14 against teams with a winning record. Houston, the deadliest 3-point shooting team in the game, went just 10 for 37 from deep.

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