Houston Rockets (-3.5, 216 o/u) at Minnesota Timberwolves
In the Western Conference playoff picture, the Houston Rockets (39-41, 17-23 Away) are currently on the outside looking in. But they could breathe some life into their fading chances tonight with a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves (28-52, 13-26 Home) at the Target Center in Minneapolis (8:00 PM Eastern).
Houston is one game back of Utah for the final playoff spot in the West (and two back of seventh-place Dallas). The Jazz host the Mavericks tonight, and the loser will still be within reach of the Rockets heading into the final game of the year … as long as the Rockets win tonight, that is.
The Rockets are coming off a 130-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers yesterday, ending a two-game skid. James Harden led the team with 40 points and 13 assists, while Patrick Beverley and Trevor Ariza each chipped in with 19 points apiece.
Harden is second in the league in scoring, averaging 28.8 per game, but has the worst shooting-percentage (43.7-percent) and most turnovers (4.6 per game) among the top-five.
Minnesota has nothing to play for, sitting third-last in the conference. But their young and talented roster is building towards next year, and doing a mighty fine job of it at the moment. The T-Wolves have won three in a row (all on the road), including a massive 124-117 (OT) upset over the Warriors. They also surprised the sixth-seeded Trail Blazers, 106-105, on Saturday.
Rookie of the Year frontrunner Karl-Anthony Towns had a team-high 27 points on 13 of 20 shooting.
The T-Wolves have lost both previous games to the Rockets this year. But both of those came in Houston. The desperate Rockets might edge this one out, but they’re not a good road team (17-23) and Minny is hot, which the Timberwolves (+3.5) the way to go.
Pick: T-Wolves +3.5.
(Photo Credit: Joe Bielawa (Flickr: DSC_0301-MN v DET) CC BY 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.)