By: Nathan Brinkman
The Timberwolves once again will look to prove their legitimacy in a game against the current two seed in the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets. The Rockets look like they could be a legitimate threat to the Golden State dynasty this season after acquiring star point guard Chris Paul in the offseason. The Wolves are coming off a bad loss to a bad Orlando Magic team, and are looking to rebound against a much better team in Houston.
What: Wolves @ Rockets
Where: Toyota Stadium
When: 8:30 PM CT
Where to watch: TNT
Where to listen: 830 WCCO
What to watch for:
Potential playoff matchup: This season, both of the aforementioned teams have played really well to start the season. The players involved fully understand what this game could mean. The Timberwolves are looking to upset the Rockets and prove they could be an elite team. The Rockets are looking to solidify themselves as a top two team in the conference. There will be a playoff type atmosphere tonight in Houston.
Harden returns: James Harden will be back in the line-up on Thursday after missing a few games with a hamstring strain. Harden is probably the best all around offensive player in the NBA and having him back in the line-up is obviously a huge addition for Houston. Jimmy Butler will likely have the assignment of trying to slow Harden down, this match-up will likely have a lot to do with who wins this game.
Playing to the level of your opponent: The Wolves have been guilty of this all season, hence dominating the Cleveland Cavaliers and then losing to the Orlando within a week of one another. This though, could mean good things in this contest considering the talent of this Rockets team. I see both teams coming out and playing extremely hard in this contest.
-The Rockets have won 14 of 16 games against the Timberwolves, including nine straight in Houston and three of four meetings last season.
-The Timberwolves are 18th in defensive rating, but third in their past 10 games.
-Jimmy Butler has led the Wolves in scoring in 12 of the past 16 games, averaging 25.4 points on 51 percent shooting in that stretch.
Minnesota: PG Jeff Teague, SG Jimmy Butler, SF Andrew Wiggins, PF Taj Gibson, C Karl-Anthony Towns
Houston: PG Chris Paul, SG James Harden, SF Trevor Ariza, PF Ryan Anderson, C Clint Capela
115-106, Houston. As much as I hate to pick against the Wolves, the Rockets are just a better team at this point.