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2018 NBA Playoffs Preview: Houston Rockets vs Minnesota Timberwolves, SWOT Analysis & Prediction

What you should look out for in this exciting first round series from the Western Conference playoffs.

FEATURED WRITER
Preview 14 Apr 2018, 11:31 IST
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James Harden will be looking to extend his incredible regular season into the playoffs
James Harden will be looking to extend his incredible regular season into the playoffs

The wait is finally over. The Minnesota Timberwolves waited 13 years to make the playoffs while the Houston Rockets spent the best part of the last two months of the regular season waiting for the playoffs.

Houston Rockets added Chris Paul at the start of the season and ended with a franchise-best tally of 65 wins and home court advantage for the playoffs. They have the odds-on favorite for the MVP, James Harden, leading the league in points and third in assists. In Clint Capela, they have the player with the best field goal percentage in the regular season and one who averages nearly 2 blocks a game.

Minnesota Timberwolves arrive into the playoffs on the back of Karl-Anthony Towns' best performance yet. The 22-year-old finished the season with 68 double-doubles and was fourth in terms of rebounds per game. They will also have the fit-again Jimmy Butler and a largely injury-free roster that will look to take the NBA playoffs 2018 by storm.

Ahead of the highly anticipated first round clash between Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves, let us take an in-depth look at how both teams stack up.

Strengths

Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns
Rockets will want to cap their record-breaking season with an NBA title

What can be said about the Houston Rockets that hasn't already been written about? They have two elite playmakers in Chris Paul and James Harden. They have one of the best rim protecting centers in Clint Capela, have an experienced wing and one of the strongest benches in the NBA.

A testament to just how dominant they were this season can be seen by the fact that they obliterated the NBA record for most threes in a season. Not only are they one of only two teams to make over 1,000 threes this season but they have made almost twice as many threes per game as the Timberwolves have. A three-point shooting team that has depth and knows how to defend, they are basically every modern NBA coach's dream.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Can KAT reign supreme in his first-ever playoffs?
Can KAT reign supreme in his first-ever playoffs?

Offensive efficiency will be the mantra for the Timberwolves as they look to upset the Rockets. They shot 47.6 % from the field during the regular season (tied for the fourth-best shooting percentage of any team, only behind the Warriors, Pelicans and the Bucks) and are the second-best FT shooting team in the league, only behind the Warriors.

Karl-Anthony Towns has the potential to rack up as many boards as he wants in a game, Jimmy Butler is built for taking over close games in the playoffs and despite the fact that this is the first time in 13 years that Minnesota has made the playoffs, they have plenty of veteran experience in Jamal Crawford, Taj Gibson, and Derrick Rose.

The fact that they don't turn the ball over very often is a trait that is often overlooked. But against an offense that will punish you if you do, it helps to have the league's second-best team when it comes to turnovers per game.

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