Houston Rockets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves – March 26, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| March 26, 2021 8:38 am PDT

The worst two teams in the Western Conference face off against each other in the first game of a double-header at the Target Center tonight. Both teams sit bottom of their respected Divisions and some way adrift from the teams above them. For the Rockets, this is an opportunity to set some clear daylight between themselves and the Timberwolves. For Minnesota, they have the incentive of not wanting to finish bottom of the heap.

Although there isn’t much to play for in terms of achieving things this season, both teams will feel this is an excellent opportunity to get a win on the board and give their fans something to cheer about.

The Rockets have thrived playing against the Timberwolves recently, having won their previous five encounters. This includes winning the last two games played in Minnesota. They have averaged seven more points per game than Minnesota over their last ten head-to-head meetings, highlighting their dominance of this fixture.

Here is my Rockets vs. Timberwolves betting preview.

Rockets vs. Timberwolves Odds

Rockets +3.5-110
Timberwolves -3.5-110
Timberwolves To Win-154
Pistons To Win+198
Over 225.5 Points-110
Under 225.5 Points-110

I’m somewhat surprised that the Timberwolves have been installed as the favorites for this one, given the Rockets sit above them in the Conference and have a superior record against them recently. The points total looks about right and is hard to take on either way.

Minnesota has only found themselves as the betting favorites on four occasions this season. They won two of those games and lost the other two.

Rockets Preview

When you look at the Rocket’s dreadful run of form, it is easy to see why they have been installed as the outsiders for this game. They have only won one of their previous 22 games, which is astonishing. However, that one win did come this week against the Raptors, so perhaps there is a glimmer of hope for them tonight. They also put up a good performance the game before that win in a narrow defeat against the Thunder.

The Rockets have an abysmal record on the road, which is only better than one other team in the Conference, tonight’s opponents. They have only managed six wins from their 21 home games this season. Houston has lost their last nine away fixtures, and you have to go back to the beginning of February to find their previous victory.

Here are the latest betting trends for Houston.

Against the Spread

  • They have only won two of their previous 15 games.
  • The Rockets have won four of their last five matches against the Timberwolves.
  • Houston has lost six of their last seven games against Western Conference opposition.
  • The Rockets are 4-8 in their previous 12 games against teams from the Northwest Division.

It’s clear that the Rockets have not only lost a lot recently, they have suffered some heavy defeats also. However, they have their excellent record against the Timberwolves to fall back on, and they will want to uphold that record tonight.

Points Total

  • Four of their last five games have gone under the betting total.
  • Only two of their previous nine matches against the Timberwolves in Minnesota have failed to go over the points total.

There isn’t anything to go on here.

The Rockets have a poor offense this season that can’t shoot. Their ranked last from the three-point range and second from last from the field goal range. They are even amongst the worst shooters from the free-throw line, so you have to question their ability. Unfortunately, when you can’t shoot, you aren’t going to win many basketball games.

Their rebounding has been lacking at both ends of the court also, which when you are not shooting well can only end one way for them, and that’s with defeat most nights.

It will be no great surprise then to see they have one of the lowest assist counts in the league this season as you have to score baskets to make assists.

The good news is they are averaging three more points on the road this season, improving their chances in what is to be expected as a tight matchup.

Their defense has been marginally better but is by no means even considered decent.

The Rockets have begun their building process, but it’s perhaps not business they would have liked to have done. When two-time NBA All-Star Oladipo refused to sign a contract extension, their hand was forced. He follows in the footsteps of James Harden by forcing a move away from the franchise. However, that’s done now, and they have two new additions to the squad to help improve things.

The Rockets have an injury list that consists of Gordon, Exum, and Nwaba. There are also doubts over the fitness of both Bradley and Porter.

Timberwolves Preview

The Timberwolves also come into this game in poor form, having only picked up three wins from their previous 17 matches. However, two of those three wins came against the Trail Blazers and the Suns, so it’s clear that they don’t shy away from the big occasion.

Their home record is the worst in the Conference as they have only won five of their 21 contests in Minnesota. They have only won one of their last ten home matches, which was against the Trail Blazers almost two weeks ago. That night it took a career-high 34-points from Anthony Edwards to see them over the line, so it’s clear that they have to go above and beyond to pick up victories.

Here is Edwards showing he can also make baskets as well as score them.

Here are the latest betting trends for Minnesota.

Against The Spread

  • Minnesota has only won one of their previous five games.

The Timberwolves have not just been losing, they have suffered some heavy defeats recently.

Points Total

  • Nine of their last 13 games have gone over the betting total.
  • Only one of their previous six matches against Southwest Division opposition has failed to go over the points total.

All signs point to a high-scoring, entertaining game.

The Timberwolves have also struggled to trouble the scoreboard this season, but their offense is marginally better than the Rockets attack. However, they, too, have struggled with their shooting this season which could mean we see a low-scoring game tonight.

Unlike Houston, whose offense has performed better on the road this season, the Timberwolves have averaged three fewer points at home this season. Therefore, this six-point turnaround could be crucial in deciding tonight’s winner.

The Timberwolves’ biggest problem has been their defense which is conceding on average 117 points per game. They aren’t getting close enough to their opponents and closing down the spaces which their opponents are happy to exploit.

They haven’t produced enough defensive rebounds either, which needs to improve drastically if they are to climb off the bottom of the standings. This section of the game will be interesting as neither team has performed well on the boards this season. Whoever wins this battle could have a distinct advantage as they are likely to see a lot more of the ball than they are used to. If the Timberwolves can win this battle, they will likely have the lion’s share of possession, especially given the high number of steals they are making per game this season.

However, they will need to be mindful that their overzealous approach has led to many personal fouls against them this season. With that said, the Rockets aren’t likely to punish them from the free-throw line.

Minnesota has also made a large number of blocks this season, but this might not be a telling factor tonight as the Rockets can’t seem to score even when they do get their shots off.

The Timberwolves will miss Russell, Beasley, and Okogie, while McLaughlin remains a doubt to feature.

Rockets vs. Timberwolves Betting Pick

Pick
  • Under 225.5 Points
    -110

This is a challenging game to call between two inferior teams. On the one hand, the Rockets seem to thrive against the Timberwolves, and on the other, Minnesota comes into the game in marginally better form. I am a man who lives by stats, and backing either one of these teams is a guessing game.

However, the stats tell us that we will see two poor offenses on display tonight, and therefore I have to take under the point’s total tonight. No matter how bad their defenses are, you can’t score points if you can’t shoot; it is that simple.

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