Shane Battier once said that the toughest time for teams was before and after the All-Star break. Players and coaches are more focused on the break and vacation. It’s hard to stay 100% focused the day before Spring Break or the Winter Break when you’re in school, so that makes sense.
Houston led the first meeting between these teams by 14 points at halftime. Then, in typical Houston fashion, they crumbled. They gave up the lead in the third quarter, then scored a total of nine points in the final frame and lost by double digits. Houston was fully healthy in that game but it didn’t matter.
In the game before the break last year, Houston moved in first place in the West and then held on through the end of the season. This year, the Rockets are in a different position, but they can leapfrog the Portland Trail Blazers if they can beat Minny and if the Warriors knock off the Blazers in Portland.
The Timberwolves will get up for the Rockets since the teams have a history from last season’s first round series. If Houston doesn’t come out of the gates hot, they could find themselves digging out of a big hole. I think this will be a game Houston will want to win and will fight for, but Minnesota still sees themselves as a potential playoff team and sit just four back in the loss column from seventh place.
As we head into the All-Star break, every player is probably dealing with bumps and bruises. For Houston, this could be their final game without Clint Capela. They will also be missing Austin Rivers, who is dealing with elbow soreness.
The Timberwolves are missing Robert Covington, who was instrumental in Minnesota’s comeback win the last time these teams met. Tyus Jones is out, and Andrew Wiggins is questionable and Derrick Rose is probable.
Tip-off is at 7pm CT on ESPN