The fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves are relieved that their team has managed to make it into the NBA playoffs after thirteen years out of the picture. So the question is whether they are just happy to be there, as they take on the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of Western Conference series that begins at 9:05 PM ET at the Toyota Center. Remember that at BetAnySports, you can place your wagers even after this game tips off, as you take advantage of what is available through Live Betting Ultra.
The T-Wolves were vastly improved this season, as Tom Thibodeau, the former coach of the Chicago Bulls, orchestrated a turnaround of sorts. Even so, they needed to defeat the Denver Nuggets in the final game of the season in order to wrap up the #8 seed in the West. The Rockets, with a 65-17 straight-up record (41-39-2 ATS), are the top seed. And they exhibited a dominance over Minnesota (47-35 SU, 38-41-3 ATS) that is impossible to ignore, as they swept all four meetings, winning three of them by eighteen points.
Houston is a team that is legitimately three-point crazy, as they attempt 42.3 per game, the most in the NBA. The Timberwolves, on the other hand, are very hesitant to shoot the three, which is reflects of Thibodeau's style. They shoot fewer triples than anybody in the NBA, but they are doing something right, as they are 4th in the league in Offensive Rating.
In the NBA odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, the Rockets are a sizable favorite:
Houston Rockets -11
Minnesota Timberwolves +11
Over 215 points -110
Under 215 points -110
The T-Wolves are challenged defensively, as they have yielded 47.5% from the field, and that could be dangerous against this Houston squad, which is ranked first in the NBA in Offensive Rating. Of course, all conversation has to start with James Harden, who is more active in his offense than any other player in the league. Harden not only led the league in scoring, but he also finished third in assists, so naturally you have to figure that Chris Paul has been able to accommodate him quite well. So this is the 1-2 punch that any playoff opponent has to fear, and of course both of these guys know how to get to the line and make free throws.
BetAnySports patrons shouldn't be surprised if the Rockets put pressure on Karl-Anthony Towns, because as someone who has committed more personals than anyone in the NBA, Towns would be susceptible to getting into foul trouble, whether it's early or late. The other side of it is that he can do some serious damage while he's in there.
That's why it will be fascinating to see the impact Clint Capela has. A team like Houston isn't necessarily known for what they can do on the inside, but they shot almost 56% from two-point range. And Capela not only led the league in field goal percentage, he also was fifth in rebounding and second in blocked shots. If there is an overlooked star on the floor, it's him.
As far as two-way players are concerned, this is where Minnesota's Jimmy Butler, who has played three games since coming back from a knee injury, is going to have to make his presence felt on both ends. With 31 points in the decisive finale against Denver, he looks like he has some offensive form. Still, those earlier meetings between these two indicate that Minnesota has a number of matchup disadvantages, and we'd have to be shown otherwise before backing the T-Wolves.
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