Where: Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota
When: 7:00pm CDT (TNT)
Why: After a thrilling Game 3 victory, the Wolves will look to even the series with the top-ranked Houston Rockets.
Welcome back! When we last left off Saturday night, the Wolves were riding high after securing their first playoff victory since 2004. As my guy John Meyer wrote over the weekend, the Wolves finally unleashed the perfect combination of All-Star KAT, Playoff Teague, and National TV Wiggins as they out-hustled, out-scored, and most importantly out-defended the high-octane Rockets offense.
In case you hadn't heard, Saturday night at the Target Center was absolutely electric. I had the privilege of attending the game in person, and the atmosphere at 600 N 1st Avenue was intoxicating from start to finish. While postseason basketball has been a rarity in these parts for some time, Wolves fans definitely showed on Saturday night they were more than ready for this opportunity.
While Game 3 was truly memorable, it was also just one game in what has been an extremely entertaining series. Paced by the (likely) 2017-2018 MVP, the Rockets will be hungry to bounce back tonight in a major way and make sure the series doesn’t include any future games in Minneapolis. You can also bet that offensive wizard Mike D’Antoni has a few tricks up his sleeve for his coaching counterpart Tom Thibodeau.
For the Wolves to secure at least one additional home playoff game, the recipe for success will be more of the same — get Towns involved, take their fare share of three-pointers, and get contribution from the bench (whether that be more of Derrick Rose or a new reserve hero stepping up).
Speaking of threes, the long ball was a major weapon for the Wolves on Saturday night, as Minnesota matched the Rockets with 15 made three-pointers (despite taking 14 less attempts than their opponent). If the Wolves want to continue to make noise in this series, look no further than this stat alone, as the Wolves were outscored by 39 points from beyond the arc in Games 1 & 2.
We all know Minnesota will never be able to match the volume of 3PA’s that Houston takes - the Wolves took 41 attempts in the first two games compared to 89 for the Rockets. However, getting (somewhat) similar production from that area of the floor will go a long way in not only balancing the mathematical equation, but also freeing up the constant double-teams that continue to swarm KAT play after play after play.
What version of KAT will we see tonight? Does Jimmy have enough (physically) in the tank to continue producing on both ends of the court? Does Playoff Teague have an expiration date? Is Derrick Rose finding his groove or was Saturday night an flashback to better days? Can Thibs find a way to get meaningful production from Tyus or Belly? All of these questions should be answered tonight at 7:00pm CDT, so schedule your evening accordingly.
Expected Starting Lineups
PG - Jeff Teague
SG - Jimmy Butler
SF - Andrew Wiggins
PF - Taj Gibson
C - Karl-Anthony Towns
PG - Chris Paul
SG - James Harden
SF - Trevor Ariza
PF - P.J. Tucker
C - Clint Capela
For a different perspective, our counterparts for Game 4 are over at The Dream Shake.
It’s Wolves basketball in late April ... feel the excitement!