He'll have to be an absolute monster inside if the T-Wolves want any chance of winning some games in this series.
No one expected the eighth-seeded Wolves to win Game 1 - many don't expect them to win a game in this series - but Sunday set up well for the upset. The four-time All-Star is healthy and ready to go and will be an offensive factor for Minnesota after averaging 22.2 points per game this season. The Houston Rockets are allowing 35.1 percent shooting from deep and are grabbing 43.5 rebounds per game.
That all added up to the Wolves holding a one-point advantage with just more than six minutes to play. Houston trailed by eight at the half and by 16 after three quarters to put the game away.More news: Sunday marks five years since Boston Marathon bombing
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The likely 2017-18 Most Valuable Player torched Minnesota down the stretch. With AP Photos.James Harden scored 44 points and the Houston Rockets held off the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-101 in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series. They have the odds-on favorite for the MVP, James Harden, leading the league in points and third in assists. The Timberwolves haven't been to the playoffs since the 2003-04 season.
Clint Capela posted a new playoff career hiigh with 24 points, adding 12 rebounds and three blocks. Led by Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, this isn't exactly an easy draw for the Rockets. Houston is 1 in the league with 15.3 threes a night while the team is tied for 13 by shooting 36.2 percent from long range this season.
This is a common occurrence too with many teams around the National Basketball Association living with their bigs switching on guards in an attempt to deal with the vast number of pick-and-rolls that make up most offenses. Harden, who also had a steal in that span, capped the run with a 3-pointer that prompted Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau to call a timeout. At no point did Butler take over the game, finishing with 13 points. While his contributions are welcomed by the Wolves, they're not enough. While the Game 1 loss was far more competitive than any of the team's four regular season meetings - which Houston swept convincingly - Sunday was an opportunity missed for Minnesota.