It’s a battle of Western Conference division leaders in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The Houston Rockets, who lead the Southwest Division, travel to face the Northwest Division leading Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night. Houston won their eighth straight by taking down Dallas 104-97 at home Sunday night. Minnesota snapped a two game slide with a 111-106 home win over Sacramento Sunday night. The Rockets own a 73-40 edge in the all-time regular season series and have taken 11 of the last 12 meetings with three straight in their pocket. That includes a 116-98 home win in the first matchup between the teams this season on January 18.
Houston Rockets Shoot for Nine In a Row
Houston has reeled off eight straight wins yet finds itself just the second hottest team in the Western Conference as Utah had nine straight triumphs entering Monday. The Rockets lead the Southwest Division by eight games over the Spurs and are within half a game of the Warriors for the best record in the West. Houston led by eight after the opening quarter but by just two at the half: they took control by outscoring Dallas 30-20 in the third quarter and allowed Dallas no closer than the final margin in the fourth. The Rockets shot 43.6 percent from the field and 13 of 45 three point attempts while missing 10 of 33 free throws. James Harden led Houston with 27 in the win.
The Rockets are above average offensively: they are 2nd in the league with 114.1 points per game. Houston is 15th in rebounding with 43.6 boards per game and 22nd with 21.9 assists a night. The Rockets are 14th in scoring defense as they allow 105.6 points per game. James Harden leads the team with 31.3 points per game while grabbing five boards and dishing out 8.9 assists a night. He missed seven games with a hamstring strain before returning against the Timberwolves January 18. Eric Gordon is putting up 18.6 points per contest while Clint Capela averages 14.5 points plus 11.1 rebounds a night. PJ Tucker and Ryan Anderson (9.9 points, 5.3 rebounds) each are key secondary options this season. Nene Hilario, Gerald Green, Trevor Ariza (12.1 points, 4.7 boards, 1.52 steals), Chris Paul (19.4 points, 8.3 assists, 1.84 steals) and Luc Mbah a Moute are key pieces in the rotation as well. The Rockets are 12th in the league in field goal percentage, shooting 46.3 percent as a team. Houston is 1st in the league with 15.6 threes a night while the team is 11th by shooting 36.5 percent from long range this season.
Minnesota Timberwolves Look to Square Season Series
Minnesota snapped a two game slide by beating the Kings but they failed to cover the line as a double digit favorite. The Timberwolves went into Monday with a two game edge over the Thunder and a three game lead over Portland in the Northwest Division race. Minnesota led by two at the half and trailed by five after three quarters before rallying to outscore Sacramento 36-26 in the fourth to get the win despite a less than stellar showing. The Timberwolves shot an even 50 percent from the floor, including nine of 24 from three point range, and hit 28 of 32 free throws in the win. The shooting helped Minnesota overcome 16 turnovers and a 43-37 disadvantage on the glass. Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with 29 points in the win.
The Timberwolves come into this game 6th in scoring with 109.6 points a game. Minnesota is 24th in rebounding with 41.7 boards a night and 13th in assists by dishing out 22.9 dimes per contest. The Timberwolves are 17th in scoring defense as they allow 106.4 points per game. Andrew Wiggins is third on Minnesota with 17.9 points plus 4.2 boards a game. Karl-Anthony Towns averages 20.1 points plus 12.1 rebounds, Jamal Crawford adds 9.9 points a night, Jimmy Butler kicks in a team leading 22.5 points and 5.4 rebounds while Jeff Teague adds 12.7 points plus 7.1 assists a contest: he returned to the lineup January 10 after missing seven games with a sprained MCL. Minnesota has to get production from Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad, Taj Gibson (12.1 points, 7.3 rebounds), Tyus Jones and Nemanja Bjelica as their bench group. The Timberwolves are 4th in the league in field goal percentage as the team shoots 48 percent from the floor. Minnesota is 29th in the league in threes with eight per game and is 19th in the league in three point shooting as they’ve hit 35.9 percent of their attempts from downtown.
- Rockets are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record
- Rockets are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. NBA Northwest
- Timberwolves are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 Tuesday games
Minnesota may have gotten a win over Sacramento but they can’t be nearly as sloppy against the Rockets as they were against the Kings if they hope to get a W. Houston is rolling along right now with eight straight wins in their pocket. The Rockets have a comfortable edge in the Southwest Division and seems intent on catching the Warriors for the top spot in the West. Houston is playing better than Minnesota is right now and that gives them the nod here: give the points and take the Rockets in this contest.
Pick: Houston Rockets -2.5
Houston is humming right now as they are winners of eight straight games. The Rockets’ hot streak, coupled with all the injuries plaguing San Antonio, has made the Southwest Division title almost a formality at this point. Minnesota is right in the thick of the mix for the Northwest Division: while they hold the lead in the division, it’s a crowded race with the last place Jazz only 5.5 games off the pace. The Timberwolves had lost two straight by a combined three points with both losses coming in the final 30 seconds: they got a win over Sacramento but were sloppy. Can Minnesota get back on track and play better basketball here or will they be the latest victim against the Rockets?
The over is 5-0 in the Rockets’ last 5 Tuesday games and 5-2 in their last seven against the Northwest Division. Minnesota has seen the over go 4-0 in their last four overall, 4-0 in their last four at home against teams with a winning road record, 5-0 in their last five against Western Conference foes, 4-0 in their last four after scoring at least 100 points and 9-2 in their last 11 against teams with a winning record. The teams have gone over the total in 12 of their last 14 meetings: that is likely the case again as both teams can pile up the points with their talent.