Rockets vs Timberwolves – NBA Pick for April 23rd
On Saturday, Minnesota got back into this series with a much needed win at home 121-105. They were a different team compared to the first two games and look to keep the momentum going in front of their raucous home crowd. In Game 3, the Minnesota faithful gave the team a whole new life on the floor and seemingly “willed” them to victory. The crowd will need to repeat that energy tonight as Houston will look to go up 3-1 and seal the fate of the T-Wolves.
The dramatic turnaround from Game 2 to Game 3 can be directed at the bounce back performances by Jimmy Butler and Karl Anthony-Towns. Butler, who averaged 12 ppg in the first two games of the series, scored 28 points in Game 3 and hit 4 big shots from downtown. Minnesota’s big man Anthony-Towns finally made an impact on this series with 18 points and 16 rebounds. In the first 2 games, he averaged 6.5 ppg, 11 rpg, and was thoroughly outplayed by Houston’s Clint Capela.
In addition to Butler and Towns having big nights, Wiggins continued his steady contributions with 20 points, Jeff Teague added 23 points and Derrick Rose scored 17 points off the bench. For the game, Minnesota outshot Houston 50% to 45.7%, shot better from beyond the arc 55.6% to 36.6%, forced more turnovers at 10 to 7, and outrebounded the Rockets 55 to 49. The Timberwolves need to duplicate this success in Game 4 to have a shot at winning.
For the Rockets, they seemed lethargic at times. Houston could not match Minnesota’s energy and effort in Game 3, but hope to do so in Game 4. Harden led the way with 29 points, but he didn’t get as much contribution from the other starters like he did in Game 3 when he had a poor offensive performance. On Saturday, Chris Paul had 17 points, but no other starter had more than 7 points. Capela, who played well in the first two games, took a step back with only 7 points and 1-of-6 from the free throw line.
As a team, Houston shot 36% from beyond the 3-point line after taking 41 attempts. You can expect the NBA’s top 3-point shooting team to bomb away in Game 4. Also, look for the Rockets to try and push the pace back to their style of play. Several players expressed their frustration over allowing the Timberwolves to dictate the flow in Game 3.
For the series, Minnesota is 2-1 ATS. The Timberwolves are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 overall games, bumped their overall home record ATS to 31-11, and are now 14-6 ATS in their last 20 games as an underdog at home. The Rockets are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games, 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games, and 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games against Western Conference opponents.
I see Houston playing much better tonight. However, I like Minnesota’s chances to even the series. Even if Houston can pull off the victory, it won’t be by much. Look for the Timberwolves to ride the energy from their home crowd and cover the +6 points.
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