Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
Sports | By Jonathan Ford

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets, 4-15

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets, 4-15

It's the first time a LeBron James-led team has dropped the opening game of the first round of the playoffs. Their other meeting came in Minnesota's first trip in 1997, when the Timberwolves were swept in three games. They are the overwhelming favorites going into the first round of the playoffs.

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 were dominant in the regular season and won a franchise-high 65 games to finish top of the pile in the Western Conference.

Ryan Anderson, who averaged 12 points and shot 50 percent from the 3-point line in four games against the Wolves, is likely out with an ankle injury. Also, combine the Timberwolves road scoring with the Rockets home scoring and you get 222 points per game.

Then Khris Middleton forced overtime with an absurd 3-pointer at the buzzer that barely got off his fingertips in time. Jeff Teague added 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

The Minnesota Timberwolves look to build on their momentum after winning five of their last seven games to clinch a playoff spot on Wednesday.

Houston Rockets guard James Harden is bound for the first MVP award of his career this season. Andrew Wiggins scored 18 points to lead Minnesota. Butler suffered a torn meniscus against the Rockets February 23: he underwent surgery on the 25 and returned April 6 against the Lakers. Capela had 20 points and 10 rebounds at halftime, but was limited in the second half and added just four more points and two rebounds. After a bad pass by Paul gave the Timberwolves a chance to tie it with 1.5 seconds left, Jimmy Butler's shot was short.

BC-BKN-Timberwolves-Rockets, 1st Ld-Writethru, 670Harden scores 44 points, Rockets beat Wolves 104-101AP Photo NVJL114, NVJL119, NVJL105, NVJL103, NVJL101, NVJL106Eds: APNewsNow. The Rockets are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Sunday games, 9-3 ATS in their last 12 vs. NBA Northwest and 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games overall.

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