Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets – NBA, April 27, 2021
The bottom of the Northwest meets the bottom of the Southwest, as the Timberwolves take on the Rockets at the Toyota Center. Although many will not pay too close attention to this matchup as essentially it is a dead rubber match, both teams still have something to play for, and therefore it could be an intriguing encounter.
Both teams are trying to avoid finishing in last place of the Western Conference, and a win for the Timberwolves will almost certainly condemn the Rockets to that fate, and therefore both will be going all out for the win.
History favors the Rockets in this fixture as they have won six of the previous seven meetings between them. However, there wasn’t much between them when they met last month as they both picked up a win apiece in back-to-back doubleheaders.
The last time Minnesota won in Houston was almost a decade ago. During that time, the Rockets were beaten on 17 occasions in Houston, which is an astonishing record.
It is, therefore, no surprise to see that over the last ten battles between these two, the Rockets have averaged nine more points than the Timberwolves. Look for Houston to take off like a Rocket tonight, as they always start fast against the Timberwolves. They have averaged seven more first-half points per game during those ten matchups. Despite this, the Timberwolves have dominated the boards, which could be their key to victory tonight.
Here are the game odds, my team analysis, and betting prediction.
Timberwolves vs. Rockets Odds
The spread seems about right for this one. When they last met, the Timberwolves gave the Rockets almost double this lead, and they went on to lose the match straight up. The total points look bang on and hard to take on either way. This hasn’t moved a single point from their last two games played four weeks ago.
The Rockets have a dreadful record of 4-14 when playing at home against Western Conference teams. This record mimics that of their record against the spread with the same parameters, which means the bookmakers don’t often get them wrong this season.
Assessing the Timberwolves
The Timberwolves’ form has picked up as of late as they have won three of their previous four matchups. They proved their recent victory over Conference leaders Utah was no fluke by following it up with another win over the two nights later. Their only defeat during those four games came against the Kings in their second of a doubleheader series against them. The Timberwolves will have been bitterly disappointed to lose that game, not only because they beat the Kings the night before, but because they threw the game away towards the end of the match. Buddy Hield hit a three-pointer with eight seconds left on the clock to condemn Minnesota.
Their form on the road has been applauding, and they have the worst away record in the Western Conference. However, they have won two of their previous three away fixtures, which amounts to over a quarter of their victories on the road this season. Perhaps they are beginning to turn the corner, and things are heading in the right direction for the Timberwolves.
Here are the latest betting trends for Minnesota:
|ATS||Minnesota is 4-1-1 in their last six matches.|
|SU||They have won four of their previous six games.|
|ATS||The Timberwolves have only won two of their last seven matchups against the Rockets.|
|SU||Minnesota has lost eight of their previous ten games on the road.|
|Total||Five of their last seven matches against teams in the Western Conference have gone under the betting total.|
|Total||The total has gone over in six of their previous nine matches against teams based in the Southwest Division.|
All of the above statistics pretty much confirm what we already know in that the Timberwolves have been terrible this season but perhaps are starting to pick up.
The Timberwolves have a poor offense this season that has been let down by their shooting more often than not.
However, they have performed better in attack on the road this season, having averaged three more points per game, which gives them every right to be optimistic tonight.
Their defense has been terrible and is only ranked higher than one other team there NBA this season. Their issue has been covering their opponents, especially outside the arc, where they allow their opponents to score at 39%, which is the worst record in the league.
They have also rebounded terribly in defense, having only averaged 32 defensive rebounds per game. Thankfully for them, they are making many steals, which is their primary source of winning back possession.
The Timberwolves’ blocking has been excellent this season, so they do have areas they can build upon. Especially when you see how they performed against the number one ranked team in the Conference.
Unfortunately, the three points they are averaging more at home are canceled out by the three points more they are conceding away from home. They are conceding a whooping 120-points per game on average away from home, which is the most in the NBA this season. Their ill-discipline usually causes this as they tend to give up fairly quickly under pressure.
The Timberwolves only have one absentee tonight, and that is Beasley, who is out with a hamstring injury.
Assessing the Rockets
The Rockets appear to be building another losing run after losing their previous four matches. They have only won one of their last ten games, which came against the Magic over a week ago. So, what did they do differently that night? The answer is everything. Their stats were up in almost every department compared to their seasonal averages.
Their form at home is similar to that of Minnesota’s away form in that they have both won seven games this season and are ranked last in the Conference. They have lost their previous four home fixtures, but in fairness to the Rockets, they have had a tough run of games during that period.
Here are the latest betting trends for Houston:
|Total||Seven of their previous ten matches have gone over the betting total.|
|SU||They have only won two of their last 20 games.|
|Total||The total has gone over in nine of their previous 12 matches against Western Conference opposition.|
|ATS||Houston has only won two of their last six games against teams from the Northwest Division.|
|ATS||The Rockets have lost four of their previous five matches played on a Tuesday.|
These stats and trends point towards a high-scoring game tonight.
The Rockets also have a poor offense this season which has averaged 107-points per game. This is also primarily down to their shooting. They have been awful from the three-point range where they have the worst figures in the league. But in all truth, they can’t shoot from anywhere on the court, whether that be in the arc, in the paint, or from the free-throw line.
Worryingly their already low average drops to 105-points when you focus on their home games. This makes then the worst home attack in the NBA.
Therefore, they will be mortified to find out that John Wall will miss the remainder of the season. Although Wall has had a limited season through injury, he has remained the creative spark for his team, and you have to wonder where this leaves them without him.
The Rockets rebounding unit is poor, and given this is an area they have lost out in the past against the Timberwolves, this has to be a concern.
Their defense is arguably worse than their offense which is saying something in itself.
The Rockets probably have more unfit players than they have fit at present. They will be without Gordon, Augustin, Wall, Exum, Nwaba, and Brown tonight. As well as that, they have a whole host of players battling injuries who may only play a part tonight, and they include Bradley, Wood, House Junior, and Porter Junior.
Timberwolves vs. Rockets Prediction and Pick
Timberwolves To Win-120
I think there is something to like about this Timberwolves team right now. They seem to be standing up to the challenge at present. I especially like this seen as they have very little to play for this season. Many will argue they are playing better because the pressure is off but was it ever on? Did anyone expect anything of them this season? I, for one, certainly didn’t.
The Rockets, on the other hand, show no signs of turning a corner. Given their long list of injuries, you have to fancy the Timberwolves to end this dreadful run of defeats in Houston.