Tonight, we will witness the Minnesota Timberwolves host their first playoff game in 14 years. The Houston Rockets have jumped out to 2-0 lead in the series which means this is a must win by all accounts. The Wolves nearly squeaked away with game 1 as the Rockets could not seem to find any offensive rhythm. For game 2, the Rockets were nearly firing on all cylinders with the exception to James Harden who somehow went 2-18 from the field.
For some inexplicable reason, Karl-Anthony Towns has only shot the ball a total of 18 times in this series. While Clint Capela has proved to be the defensive stronghold on this Rockets team, there is no reason Towns cannot take advantage when Nene Hilario is on the floor to give Capela a rest. Also, when the Rockets switch on pick and rolls defensively, when Chris Paul, Harden, Ariza, or Gordon find themselves on Towns or even Taj Gibson, there’s no reason to not feed that ball into the post. The post game is the one area we have an advantage against Houston.
Jimmy Butler has struggled alongside Towns in this series. He has been nursing an injury to his shooting hand so that can be a reason for his struggles. Also, he has only just recently returned from the surgery on his knee so he is still trying to get to game shape on the fly in the playoffs. Butler has been as good as you can ask for against the soon to be MVP, James Harden. Hopefully tonight he pairs that defensive fortitude with some great offensive production.
Playoff Wiggins is apparently a thing? I for one have been impressed with Wiggins intensity on both ends of the floor. He has been a lone bright spot on a team with plenty of blemishes. He has shot 45% percent combined in both games which could be even better if he didn’t settle for long 2’s or fadeaway jumpers in the post. Wiggins’ has also been rebounding the ball at a higher clip than what he’s known for. He recorded 6 in game 1 and 8 rebounds in game 2.
The most frustrating part about this series has been Thibodeau’s lack of understanding of lineups that work against the Rockets. The lineups that have Jamal Crawford and Derrick Rose on the floor have been absolute killers. Jamal Crawford’s shot selection and poor defense is a large contributor to this fact. Rose hasn’t been as worse as Crawford in those two facets but he still hasn’t been great. When we have player’s like Tyus Jones and Nemanja Bjelica on the bench, the frustration is well warranted.
The Timberwolves are going to have to play well in all areas of tonight’s matchup if they want any chance to win. Hopefully Towns, Wiggins, Butler, and Jeff Teague all play out their minds to give the Target Center faithful a well deserved playoff win. If not, we will be in real danger of getting swept which really shouldn’t happen with the talent that is on this team. Go Wolves and hopefully the next time I write a piece about them, it’ll be after a great team victory.
photo credit – nba.com