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Houston Rockets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Game 5 preview

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NBA: Playoffs-Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Oh look, the Rockets are good again.

It’s amazing what a 50-point quarter can do for a team. Despite being outscored by 11 in quarters 1, 2, and 4, one good stretch of 12 minutes was enough to shift the narrative from “The Rockets are in a rut” to “The Rockets can outscore anyone.”

Sure, the Rockets may have scored a ton of points and won comfortably, which was definitely helped along by those 50 points. However, it was the return of Houston’s defense that gave Houston a commanding 3-1 lead in their first round series. Once again, Houston asserted its dominance on that end of the court and held the Timberwolves to 100 points just two days after hemorrhaging 121 points to Minnesota. Make no mistake: scoring is nice, but this isn’t last year’s Rockets. They do NOT have to outscore teams to be successful anymore. They can play in the dirt and drag their opponents around too. (Yes, I know you have to outscore your opponents to win in basketball. You know what I mean.)

Last season, the slow pace and poor shooting would have doomed Houston. In fact, it did against San Antonio. Now, the Rockets know they can win ugly (Game 1) or they can win going away (Games 2 and 4). They also know that complacency is death. They haven’t won anything yet, and from postgame interviews it sounds like Houston understands that fact.

My prediction before the series was Rockets in 5. I picked Minny to win Game 3 behind their home crowd. That happened. Now it’s Houston’s turn to use their crowd to propel them to a huge win. From one TC (Target Center) to another (Toyota Center), the Rockets need to wrap up their series tonight rather than having to fly all the way back to Minnesota.

Tip-off is at 8:30pm CT on TNT