NBA Playoffs Preview: Houston Rockets vs Minnesota Timberwolves, SWOT Analysis & Prediction

Hope Soto
April 18, 2018

Paul is averaging just under 20 points this season, while also collecting an impressive 7.9 assists per game. That's six games better than the Toronto Raptors for the best record in the National Basketball Association and 7.5 games ahead of the reigning champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference. The Timberwolves finished 47-35 on the season, one game ahead of Denver to earn the final playoff spot in the West. Minnesota let an eight point halftime lead slip away as the Nuggets forced overtime before regrouping.

Houston Rockets guard James Harden is bound for the first MVP award of his career this season.

If Harden plays defense this postseason the way he has during the regular season, it will show the rest of the team he is willing to do what he needs to do (we can't just forget his poor defensive showing during last season's Spurs debacle in the Western Conference semis). The Rockets rank first in offensive efficiency, while the Timberwolves are 24th in defensive efficiency. In the fourth quarter, he dropped 13 points while making drives through the paint and challenging rivals on one-on-one situations on the perimeter.

The Rockets are 62-12 when they score over 100 points, while the Timberwolves are 44-22.

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If they were playing the Warriors, who are without Stephen Curry, I would have given them a puncher's chance of winning the series. Butler, Wiggins and Towns are among the 15 players that have averaged the most amount of minutes during the regular season.

Harden is enjoying another monster season to the tune of 30.4 points, 8.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game through 72 appearances.

Coach Tom Thibodeau has said Rose gives Minnesota one of its few perimeter defenders, and this series - with Houston boasting Harden, Chris Paul and a slew of outside shooters - demands them.

3-point shooting - This game will be a battle of two contrasting offenses. Minnesota is no one to mess with, they are pretty good. We'll have to see what kind of momentum the Rockets can build up in this series to better answer that question. The Wolves have to cut off penetration, contain pick and rolls and shooters off the line. Tucker made a 3 for the Rockets after that, but Minnesota used a 6-1 spurt, with 3s from Wiggins and Teague, to go back on top 62-58. If you're looking for a player to be this series' Mario Ellie, you have options. The Wolves have late-clock shot makers, so a rhythm-less tight game played in the low 100s could be their best bet.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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