Minnesota Timberwolves: 5 keys to series vs. Rockets

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The Rockets possess a bevy of players with long playoff resumes, while two of the Wolves' best players in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns will experience the playoffs for the very first time.

James Harden scored only 10 points in the January game, but he was returning from missing seven games with an injury. But Harden was there to carry his team, nailing 7-of-13 from three-point land and finishing with 44 points.

Houston kept All-Star big man Towns in check, limiting him to just eight points after he'd averaged 21.3 in leading the Wolves to their first playoff appearance since 2014. His teams were bounced in the first round five times, and the other four they lost in the second round.

Rose, who scored 16 points, looked like Minnesota's best player for much of the night.

The Minnesota Timberwolves played about as well defensively as they could have hoped in Game 1 against the Houston Rockets and it still wasn't enough.

So if the Rockets missed a three-pointer, they stood a good chance of gaining the rebound and reloading from deep again if they wanted. Harden took over after that, scoring the last six points of the quarter to leave Houston up 76-72 entering the fourth.

While Minnesota possesses more talent than the average 8-seed, beating the Rockets four times in seven games is almost impossible, especially when considering they lost only three games with James Harden, Clint Capela and Paul in the lineup during the regular season. But the Timberwolves got going after that and had tied it up by late in the first quarter. The Wolves made 8 of 23 3-point attempts. There were two off days before Game 1, two more before Game 2 and two more before Game 3.

Clint Capela posted a new playoff career hiigh with 24 points, adding 12 rebounds and three blocks.