The Houston Rockets weren’t at their best in Game 1 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but an MVP performance from James Harden was enough to snag a win. The Rockets will look to go up 2-0 in the series on Wednesday.
After romping through the regular season to 65 wins and the No. 1 seed in the league, the Houston Rockets didn’t look anywhere close to their best in Game 1 against the eighth-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves. Luckily for the Rockets, James Harden rescued them with an MVP performance of 44 points and eight assists in a tight 104-101 victory.
The Wolves actually took a one-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, but that’s when Harden went into takeover mode. He scored 12 straight Rockets points to give them separation, though they narrowly avoided an epic collapse in the final minute.
While Harden made seven of his 12 3-point attempts, his teammates went just 3 of 25 from long range, which helped Minnesota stay in the game. Chris Paul had a dreadful night and was almost the goat in the final seconds when he committed a horrible turnover that gave the Wolves a chance to send the game to overtime.
Clint Capela was the one Rocket who consistently came to Harden’s aid in Game 1. The Swiss big man was superb on both sides of the ball and finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Capela soundly outplayed Karl-Anthony Towns, who was invisible for much of the night and only finished with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting.
Tom Thibodeau implored Towns to be more aggressive after the game, so expect a more ferocious KAT performance in Game 2. The Wolves will also need a better effort out of Jimmy Butler, who had just 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting in Game 1 as he battled through a wrist injury and the difficulties of guarding Harden.
Derrick Rose gave the Wolves a lift off the bench with 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting, but he was also repeatedly roasted by Harden on the other end. Furthermore, Rose and Jamal Crawford combining for 25 shots to just 20 for Towns and Butler isn’t an ideal scenario for Minnesota.
Date: Wednesday, April 18
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Location: Houston, Texas
Venue: Toyota Center
TV Info: TNT, AT&T SportsNet Southwest, FOX Sports North
Live Stream: Watch live on FuboTV. Sign up now for a free seven-day trial. Qualified subscribers can also watch on TNT Overtime.
The Wolves missed a prime opportunity to steal a game in Houston, which has to leave a bad taste in their mouth. The Rockets will likely put forth a better overall performance in Game 2, and they also may get Ryan Anderson back from an ankle injury.