Being down 2-0, the Minnesota Timberwolves came out swinging in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarter Finals. They faced the heavily favorited Houston Rockets at Minneapolis this past Saturday night. The Timberwolves looked like a completely different team compared to Game 1 and Game 2. One of the reasons must’ve been because of the chip they had on their shoulder. They will be in front of a home crowd who hasn’t seen their Wolves’ perform in a playoff game since 2004.
It ended well for the home team, as they wrote a different narrative for the series, leaving Game 3 with a 121-105 victory. This gave the city of Minneapolis their first playoff win in 14 years.
Rockets Shot Out of the Sky
- Harden’s Shooting Woes: He started off the series on fire! He finished with 44 points on 15 of 16 shooting and 7 of 12 from beyond the arc. Even more impressive with his four rebounds and eight assists to the stat sheet. But he’s only made a combined 41 points in Game 2 and 3 since that show out, shooting 11-of-39.
- Chris Paul Fouled Out: In 30 minutes, Paul finished with 17 points and couldn’t control his frustration in key plays against nifty Wolves’ point guard Jeff Teague. His early foul trouble left him on the bench for quite a while and had Eric Gordon play four more minutes than he did. Gordon finished with 15 points.
- Rockets Starters Didn’t Show Up: James Harden and Chris Paul were the only starters who scored in double digits in Game 3. The other three need to step up if they don’t want the series to be tied like P.J Tucker for instance. He ended the night with four points. Thi was his third game in a row scoring less than seven points. Although he’s known for his defense and corner three-point shot, he hasn’t succumbed to much in this entire playoff series. Also, 3-point specialist Trevor Ariza had a hard time getting his shots off in Game 3. Ariza ended his night with 6 points, shooting 2-of-6 from beyond the arc in 34 minutes of playing time. And finally Clint Capela, the Rockets protégé who averages 13.9 points has had two straight under 10-point games. Their best rebounder and lob finisher will need to step up big against Karl-Anthony Towns in Game 4.
Timberwolves Strong Surge
- KAT IS BACK: The prominent 22-year-old Dominican All-Star had a tough start to his playoff career, notching eight points in Game 1 and five points in Game 2. Many doubters were on his tail, like Stephen A. Smith, calling Towns “soft” in his two-game performance.
But besides the fact of his doubters, KAT came out in Game 3 and put on a clinic. He looked unstoppable when dropping 18 points and battled for every rebound off the rim, collecting 16 of them on the night. His opponent on the floor for most of the game is Capela, who had no answer against KAT.
- Jimmy’s Surge: Arguably one of the best two-way players in the league, when healthy, is Butler. He was on fire in game 3. He knocked down four three-pointers in his 28-point night. He also shot 9-of-14 from the field and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. The Timberwolves are going to keep needing Butler’s production along the stretch of the series.
- Domination by Key Starters: Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague have officially found their rhythm. The Canadian Wiggins finished with 20 points on the night with four 3-pointers, while Teague helped out with 23 points of his own.
- Shooting Jamboree: The Timberwolves made 15 three-pointers in game 3, the Rockets did as well. The only difference is the number of shots it took them to make it to 15. Houston shot 41, and Minnesota shot 27. The Timberwolves came out on top in Game 3 by shooting 50 percent from the field.
- The Infamous Derrick Rose: Rose is the unlikely unsung hero of the Wolf Pack. In the first two games, he outscored KAT coming off the bench. It almost seemed like he was the only player putting in effort as a sixth man. Rose is averaging 14 points in the series so far. If he can keep up his production level coming off the bench, while the Timberwolves maintain their confidence, then the Timberwolves might be able to pull off the seemingly impossible.
There were a lot of highlights.
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) April 22, 2018
James Harden and the Houston Rockets will not have another bad game. Even though KAT exploded and showed his true potential in the playoffs, Clint Capela will already watch film and maintain his positioning against Towns. Chris Paul won’t get into foul trouble again. James Harden has a huge possibility of dropping 40-plus points again. If he does so, the Rockets will lead the series 3-1, heading back to Houston. Rockets 112-100 Timberwolves.
Monday Night starting at 8 PM.
Location: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.