Minnesota Timberwolves vs Houston Rockets
NBA: 9:00 PM EST
April 15, 2018
The new kings of the NBA’s Western Conference will begin their journey to attempt to dethrone the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 on Sunday, as the Houston Rockets will play host to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The two teams come from vastly different finishes to the regular season, as the Rockets coasted to the 1 seed and were able to rest key players down the stretch. Minnesota, on the other hand, was pushed to overtime at home against Denver, in a de facto one-game playoff for a berth in the postseason.
Houston has been impressive from the opening tip this season, when they went into Oracle Arena and stunned the defending champion Warriors behind James Harden’s 27 points. That game was the first of many shining examples of Harden’s spectacular play in 2017-18, as he finished as the only player in the Association with 30+ points per game. He will likely take his first MVP honors this summer, but Sunday, he and his teammates will be more focused on chasing an NBA title. Houston GM Daryl Morey has built an impressive supporting cast around Harden, with point guard Chris Paul (18.6ppg/7.9apg) and center Clint Capela (NBA-best 65% from the field) anchoring down the league’s top offense in ORTG.
The Wolves, meanwhile, are not lacking in star power either, and boast several scoring options on the offensive end of the floor. Jimmy Butler has transcended from late first-round draft pick to an NBA star and a late-game closer, and he seems determined to propel Minnesota to a respectable showing. Karl-Anthony Towns is the centerpiece of the T’Wolves frontcourt, as the Kentucky alum has come into his own in 2017-18, with gaudy 21ppg/12rpg averages for the season.
These teams have met 4 times this season, with the following point totals: 214, 234, 222, and 229. Both teams have top 5 offenses in terms of league efficiency, and Vegas has set an awfully low over/under total with that precedent in mind. I’m aware that teams tend to play a little more defensively in the postseason, but there’s so much firepower on both rosters, I feel more comfortable backing the over in Game 1.
Our Free Betting Pick: Over 216.5
Player Prop: James Harden 30+ Points