1. Hot shooting
The Timberwolves were fourth in the NBA in overall shooting percentage (47.6 percent) and second in free throw shooting (80.4 percent).
They don’t shoot particularly well from 3 and they don’t anywhere close to the clip that Houston does, from anywhere. To compete with the sheer volume of chances the Rockets give themselves offensively, Minnesota has to keep doing what they’ve been doing all season — taking good shots, hitting them at a high percentage and making free throws when they get to the line. Simple as that.
Minnesota can execute on all five of these points and still easily lose the series in four or five games. But as good as Houston is, the Timberwolves might be the last of the four bottom teams in the West they’d have wanted to play. They have five really solid starters, a point guard in Jeff Teague who orchestrates and scores, two of the league’s best defensive players at their positions, a prolific scorer off the bench and a coach who has been here and knows how to win in the playoffs.
Last but not least, a word on Derrick Rose.
He’s played only sparingly so far since he came to Minnesota but in limited minutes, he’s scored in double figures twice, including a 14-point game against the Rockets. He isn’t 2009 D. Rose but he’s shown a couple glimpses and just because most people have written him off, it doesn’t mean he has nothing left in the tank.
His teammates love him, particularly Butler and Gibson, who played with him for several seasons in Chicago, and any time he’s on the floor and making plays, it’s a huge shot in the arm for the rest of the team.
He’s not the most important player in this series by any stretch, but don’t be surprised if Derrick Rose has a couple moments in this series, particularly if it goes six or seven games.