Timberwolves vs Rockets – NBA Pick for April 18th
In Game 1 of this series, the Houston Rockets had to rely on James Harden to lead them to victory as he scored 44 points on 15-of-26 shooting. The Rockets had respectable leads throughout the game, but Minnesota was able to fight their way back and even had a shot at the end of the game to tie things up. Neither team played to their full potential, which is why I believe Game 2 will be a close, exciting contest.
Houston shot 27% from beyond the arc, which should improve in Game 2. However, Minnesota also shot poorly from the 3-point line at 34.8%. Other than Harden, only Paul and Capela had double digit points. For the Timberwolves, 5 different players had 13 or more points. That included Derrick Rose and Jamal Crawford off the bench.
Two of Minnesota’s top scorers in Jimmy Butler and Karl Anthony Towns scored well below their season averages. Butler scored 13 points, which is 9 points less than his 22.2 ppg average. Towns only scored 8 points, which is well below his 21.3 ppg average. I expect both players to contribute more points in Game 2, and that should help to balance out the improved 3-point shooting that Houston will have in this contest.
Harden will get his points, but the key to Game 2 will be the matchup between Houston’s Clint Capela and Minnesota’s Towns. In the opening contest, Capela outplayed Towns. Clint scored 24 points to Town’s 8, tied Towns with 12 rebounds, and had 3 blocked shots compared to Towns with 1 block. For Minnesota to have a chance at winning, they need their big man to outplay Capela and really dictate the paint.
In their last 5 games, Minnesota is 5-0 ATS. Houston has gone 0-5 ATS over their last 5 overall games. On the season, Houston went 17-24 ATS at home, which doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in bettors. Furthermore, Minnesota is 6-2 ATS in their last 8 trips to Houston.
At home, Houston averages 114.1 ppg and allows 104.9 ppg. That’s a difference of 9.2 ppg, which is below the 10.5 point spread for Game 2.
On the road, Minnesota scored 107.4 ppg and allowed 108.7 ppg. This proves that they can keep the game close when away from home, as evident in Game 1 when they loss 104-101.
I see Minnesota keeping this game close by time it’s all said and done. Even if Houston is able to pull out to a big lead, I believe the Timberwolves can claw their way back and keep it to a single digit loss. It would be easy to say take Houston and the moneyline, but the value is with Minnesota and the points. Look for the Timberwolves to play inspired team basketball and for their bench to keep them in this contest.
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