James Harden led the National Basketball Association this year in scoring with an impressive 30.8 points per game, while Center Clint Capela led the league with a 65.2 field goal percentage.
Minnesota is a team on the rise in the West - Karl-Anthony Towns is a stud. Houston dropped two of three to close the season, falling 96-83 on the road in a meaningless game to Sacramento Wednesday.
The Houston Rockets hope they can have the same success in the playoffs, as this team has lost just four games since January 26.
While Minnesota possesses more talent than the average 8-seed, beating the Rockets four times in seven games is almost impossible, especially when considering they lost only three games with James Harden, Clint Capela and Paul in the lineup during the regular season. The Rockets had the NBA's best regular season record at 65-17 and won all four meetings with the Wolves handily.
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Anderson sprained his ankle on April 3 and it sidelined him for the final four games of the regular season. The Minnesota Timberwolves waited 13 years to make the playoffs while the Houston Rockets spent the best part of the last two months of the regular season waiting for the playoffs. Minnesota has to get production from Gorgui Dieng, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson (12.2 points, 7.1 rebounds), Tyus Jones and Nemanja Bjelica as their bench group. Jeff Teague added 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Timberwolves will have to go on the offensive right from the start to have a chance of beating the Rockets. Their "reward" was a date with the top-seeded Rockets. Eric Gordon is the third double-digit scorer and Clint Capela is grabbing 10.8 rebounds.
The Rockets are above average offensively: they are 2 in the league with 112.4 points per game. Houston is 1 in the league with 15.3 threes a night while the team is tied for 13 by shooting 36.2 percent from long range this season. That Wolves team got swept, and many outside of the Twin Cities expect that again this time around.
BC-BKN-Timberwolves-Rockets, 1st Ld-Writethru, 670Harden scores 44 points, Rockets beat Wolves 104-101AP Photo NVJL114, NVJL119, NVJL105, NVJL103, NVJL101, NVJL106Eds: APNewsNow.