It’s the continuation of a Western Conference playoff series down in the Lone Star State. The eighth-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves are on the road as they face the top-seeded Houston Rockets in Game 5 of their best of seven series Wednesday night. Houston pulled out a 104-101 win in the series opener last Sunday at home and followed up with a 104-84 home win in Game 2 Wednesday night. Minnesota answered with a 121-105 home win in Game 3 Saturday night. Houston took a 3-1 series advantage as they claimed a 119-100 road win in Game 4 Monday night. The Rockets own a 76-40 lead in the all-time regular season series and have won six straight meetings with four coming this season: that includes a 129-120 road win in the last matchup on March 18. Houston won the lone playoff series between the teams, taking a 3-0 series win over Minnesota in the first round of the 1997 NBA playoffs. That gives the Rockets a 6-1 advantage in playoff victories between the teams.
Minnesota Timberwolves Hope to Extend Series
Minnesota hung tough for a half in Game 4 in their efforts to try and square the series. Things went south in a hurry as they were outscored 50-20 in the third quarter and that told the tale in the contest. The Timberwolves cut the deficit in garbage time but the game had long been decided. Minnesota now finds itself in a desperate situation, trailing 3-1 in the series: they have to win three straight games in order to earn their first playoff series win since they went to the Western Conference Finals in 2004. Can the Timberwolves find a way to push the series to a Game 6?
The Timberwolves are shooting 44.9 percent from the field in the series and 40 percent from beyond the arc so far. Minnesota has seen their three point shooting skyrocket in the last two games: after going 15 of 27 in Game 3 they followed that up with an eight of 22 showing in Game 4. The Timberwolves shot 46.4 percent from the field and 16 of 23 at the free throw line while turning the ball over 16 times. Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 22 points and 15 rebounds in the loss. Jimmy Butler added 19 points, Derrick Rose had 17 off the bench, Andrew Wiggins finished with 14 and Jamal Crawford had 10. Jeff Teague sputtered, going one for seven from the floor and finishing with two points in a losing effort.
Houston Rockets Ready to Close Out Series
Houston bounced back after a disappointing Game 3 performance to take control of the series with a dominant showing. The Rockets had an explosive third quarter to break away from a one point halftime advantage and buried Minnesota in a barrage of offense. Houston scored as many points in the third quarter (50) as they had in the entire first half to open up a 31 point lead and then coasted down the stretch. The Rockets had their best showing over the last month or so on both ends of the floor: can they carry that momentum into this one?
The Rockets have had all kinds of problems shooting the ball in the postseason. Houston enters this contest shooting only 42.9 percent from the field in the series. The Rockets’ three point shooting has been even worse as they are hitting a paltry 32.9 percent from beyond the arc: they hit 74.7 percent at the charity stripe. Houston shot 43.5 percent from the field and hit 16 of their 43 three point attempts while going 23 of 26 at the line. James Harden led Houston with 36 points, four rebounds and four steals in the win: he hit 12 of 26 from the floor. Chris Paul chipped in 25 points, six assists plus five steals, Eric Gordon added 18 off the bench, Trevor Ariza had 15 in his best game of the series and Clint Capela, who was big in the first two games, finished with 14 points and 17 rebounds.
- Timberwolves are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of greater than .600
- Timberwolves are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games playing on 1 day of rest
- No Key Trends
Minnesota has struggled in the series as Houston has put up their points even with their disappointing perimeter shooting. The Timberwolves have their work cut out for them at this point to get back in the series. Wiggins and Towns have been inconsistent in their first playoff action while Butler and Teague have struggled in the series. Harden outscored Minnesota by himself in the third quarter Monday 22-20 and that told the tale of the game. Playing at home, the Rockets should get the upper hand in this one and close the series out