Rockets at Timberwolves – NBA Pick for February 13th
There are quite a few tasty matchups in the NBA on Tuesday night, though the marquee game is going down in Minneapolis. The Houston Rockets, who enter the night just a game back of the Warriors for the top spot in the West, will take on the Timberwolves, who are a half-game back of the Spurs for the No. 3 spot in the conference.
These teams met last month in Houston, where the Rockets cruised to a relatively stress-free 116-98 triumph. Both teams were at full strength that night, and that will largely be the case again tonight. The Rockets are still without the injured Trevor Ariza as well as the newly-signed duo of Brandan Wright and Joe Johnson, but they’ve shown no signs of slowing down even without their full complement of rotation players.
Houston enters the game winners of 8 straight, including a 104-97 win over the Mavericks last time out. James Harden, who looks like a lock to win his first MVP at this point, keeps racking up numbers. Over the course of the current 8-game winning streak, Harden’s averaging 32.9 points, 8.3 assists and 6.1 rebounds on tidy 47% shooting from the field.
Many wondered prior to the season how Harden and Chris Paul would coexist, but they’ve clearly had no troubles adjusting to playing alongside one another. CP3 has been super efficient during the streak, averaging 19.1 points of his own with 6.6 assists and 4.9 boards. He’s also connected on nearly 52% of his shots, including 37.5% of his threes.
Harden and Paul are clearly what make the Rockets’ offense hum, but the contributions of young center Clint Capela can’t be overlooked. The 23-year-old Switzerland native is often overlooked when people discuss the game’s top young big men, but he’s slowly creeping his way into the national spotlight. Over his last 5 games, Capela is going for 16.8 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. He’s an impactful player on both ends of the floor, and a couple of games ago he went for 23 points and 25 rebounds against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets.
Capela’s minutes sometimes get jerked around, but he should be out there a good amount tonight in order to deal with Karl-Anthony Towns. KAT’s role in the Wolves’ offense has dwindled a bit this season with Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague now in the fold, but he’s still putting up tidy averages of 20.1 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. Towns leads the NBA in double-doubles (49) and he’s made strides on the defensive end as the season has progressed.
Minnesota has been a struggling franchise for over a decade, but the addition of Butler seems to be what the team needed to finally leap into contention. It took some time for Butler to adapt to his new teammates, but he’s been a man possessed over the last couple of months. If Harden slows down at some point, perhaps Butler will get a little more MVP consideration.
He looks like the perfect complementary player to play alongside Towns. He’s once again leading the league in minutes now that he’s been reunited with head coach Tom Thibodeau, but he’s showing no signs of slowing down. Despite playing nearly 41 minutes per game over his last 5 outings, Butler has still drilled 53.3 percent of his shots.
The Wolves have generally been up and down of late, which has led to San Antonio sneaking past them in the standings. Minnesota is just 4-6 over their last 10 games, and they’re going to have to string some wins together if they want to stave off Oklahoma City for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Picking up a statement win over a red-hot Rockets team tonight would be a start. Minnesota is 23-6 in their own building this season, which is one of the best marks in the league. The Rockets have a 20-7 record away from home, which is the league’s second-best road record behind Golden State.
These are 2 of the 3 best offensive teams in the league, so we could be in store for a shootout tonight. Minnesota will be aggressively attempting to defend their home floor, while Houston wants to pick up a quality road win for themselves. This is shaping up to be one of the more hotly-contested games of the night.
222 points is a large total, but it looks beatable, especially if the game stays close, as expected. Hit the over on 222 here in a game featuring a pair of potent offensive clubs.
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