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Houston Rockets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves game preview

NBA: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves have avenged their first round series loss last season to the Rockets by winning the first two meetings between these two teams. Both of those games came up north in the unfriendly (for the Rockets) confines of the Target Center.

Tonight, Houston finally gets a chance to play the Timberwolves in Houston and will try to avoid the season sweep as these teams only meet three times this season. The game will also be on national television.

Starting with the Phoenix game, Houston began a stretch of six games that Houston should be favored to win. That isn’t to say that Houston will win all six, but that they should. If Houston has any chance at moving past Denver into the second spot in the West, they will likely need to sweep this stretch.

The last time the Rockets met the Timberwolves, Clint Capela was still out and it showed. Minny attacked the rim to the tune of 70 points in the paint. The Wolves also used a range attack and shot 50% from deep (10-20 shooting). All told, Minnesota only scored 8 points from between the paint and the three-point line. That’s a positively Moreyball-esque and a stat probably helped by the absence of Andrew Wiggins.

The Rockets should be healthy for the game after giving Chris Paul the night off against the Suns for rest, but James Harden is questionable with a cervical strain, which is the same injury that forced him to miss the Golden State game (though he was also dealing with the flu). Minnesota was missing Derrick Rose, Jeff Teague, Luol Deng, and Robert Covington for their most recent game against the Utah Jazz. I have not seen any word on those players’ availability tonight.

Tip-off is at 8pm CT on ESPN