Ever since the Houston Rockets clinched the no. 1 seed for the Western Conference, every team wanted to avoid getting the no. 8 seed and facing the Rockets in the first round. The Minnesota Timberwolves ended up with the no. 8 seed and have competed with the Rockets for the past three games. Houston had home court advantage and claimed the first two games. Minnesota fans were disappointed with the lack of production on offense and the bleak chance that the Timberwolves had of moving on to the second round of playoffs. On April 21, the Timberwolves made a comeback in the Target Center.
The first two games were hard to watch for Minnesota fans as Karl-Anthony Towns played very poorly. Stephen A. Smith, sports television personality, even called Towns “soft” based on how weak his presence was offensively. In game 1 he put up 8 points in 40 minutes. In game 2, Towns dropped 5 points in 24 minutes. The second game had the Timberwolves losing by 20 points to the Rockets. Overall the Timberwolves have not been playing solid basketball and knew that change needed to happen. They did so in game 3 when Minnesota finally defeated the Rockets 121-105.
Karl-Anthony Towns scored more points in game 3 than the first two games combined. Towns scored 18 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. Jimmy Butler scored 28 points, Jeff Teague scored 23 points, and Andrew Wiggins scored 20 points. The team as a whole stepped up and refused to go down without a fight.
The whole season, the Timberwolves have focused on their defensive presence. Tom Thibodeau, Minnesota head coach, is a defensive mastermind and has turned players like Karl-Anthony Towns into defensive stars. To keep Houston on edge and force them to earn their points is no easy task. Minnesota has stepped up to do this in a tremendous way. The Timberwolves have combined for a total of 39.5 defensive rebounds per game, 5 steals per game, and 4.5 blocks per game.
The Timberwolves need to keep up this style of play to keep winning. It seems very difficult to defeat the Rockets, but if the Timberwolves can keep their defensive presence at the same level and work hard on every offensive play. The Rockets will have to fight very hard to defeat this Minnesota team. To beat a Goliath like the Houston Rockets, the Timberwolves need to play both ends of the court strong. The offense for Minnesota was flowing in game 3 and they were scoring efficiently. This same offensive explosion needs to happen for the rest of the series if the Timberwolves hope to reach the next round.
Most people doubt that the Rockets could lose this early in playoffs. If game 3 of this series has been any indication, the Timberwolves are fed up with losing and they will not be quitting any time soon.