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Rockets at Wolves: A Big Test

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The Wolves host the explosive Rockets for the first time this season.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Rockets at Wolves
7:00 pm CST
FS North

The Rockets sit just half a game behind the Golden State Warriors for the top record in the NBA, and are currently on an eight game winning streak. In other words, it’s a huge test for the Wolves, who have been stumbling a bit recently, with six losses in their last ten games.

Particularly disquieting is the defensive regression for the Wolves over the last month, during which they once again have plummeted to the bottom of the league. Against the explosive Rockets offense, the Wolves will have to find something that works to slow them down, lest they get run out of the building.

We all know what the Rockets bring: An explosive offense led by James Harden and Chris Paul, that relies on voluminous three point shooting that they mix in with pick and rolls that frequently result in open dunks for their bigs as teams desperately try to slow Harden and defend the arc. It’s a combination that has proven deadly this season, and has led the Rockets to the top offense in the league.

This squad has proven strong defensively as well, ranking ninth in the league, mostly behind terrific defensive rebounding and foul avoidance. You can get good looks against the Rockets, but you better make em, because you aren’t getting second chances, and because they put immense pressure on you to keep up.

In the first meeting between these teams, the Wolves unsurprisingly got outscored by 27 points behind the arc, and were unable to make up that deficit in their usual strong areas of free throws and second chance opportunities. The result was a 116-98 cruise for the Rockets in a game that never really felt competitive.

Meanwhile, the Western Conference behind the Warriors and Rockets is incredibly tight. Three losses separate third from ninth in the standings, with the Wolves occupying the fourth spot. Tonight would be a terrific moment for a signature win against a top team that is playing terrific basketball. The Wolves could certainly use some renewed momentum heading into the All-Star break.

Expected Lineups

Rockets

Chris Paul
James Harden
P.J. Tucker
Luc Mbah a Moute
Clint Capela

Wolves

Jeff Teague
Jimmy Butler
Andrew Wiggins
Taj Gibson
Karl-Anthony Towns

Our blogging buddies are over at The Dream Shake. Be excellent.

Enjoy the game. Chat here. Go Wolves.