The Houston Rockets are now three games into the postseason, but they haven’t looked like the dominant regular season team that won a league-high 65 games.
The Houston Rockets have a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead over the Timberwolves on Monday. Although, the Rockets have yet to play their best basketball in their first three postseason games.
In Game 1, the Rockets were able to pull off a 104-101 win behind James Harden‘s 44 points and 8 assists. Clint Capela also came up big for Houston, finishing with 24 points and 12 rebounds. But the game was too close for comfort because no else on the Rockets came to play.
Outside of Harden and Capela, the rest of the team scored just 36 points. Chris Paul finished with 14 points on only 5-for-14 shooting and he committed 6 uncharacteristic turnovers. Houston shot just 10-of-37 (27 percent) from 3-point range.
In Game 2, it was Chris Paul’s turn to carry Houston’s offense. Paul led the way with 27 points and 8 assists and Gerald Green scored 21 points off of the bench. Although, James Harden scored just 12 points and shot 2-for-18 from the field, including 1-for-10 from the 3-point line.
The Rockets only shot 36.5 percent from the floor and 30.8 percent from 3-point range in the second game of the series. However, Minnesota’s offense was even worse, as they were only able to put up 82 points on the scoreboard and they made just 5 of their 18 3-point attempts.
In Game 3, with their backs against the wall, the Wolves came out with a furry. Minnesota out scored Houston 35 to 24 in the third quarter on their way to a 121-105 win. Houston shot the ball a little better in Game 3, but they allowed Minnesota to shoot 50 percent from the floor and 55.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Houston needs to set the tone early
In the regular season, Houston led the NBA in both first quarter points scored (30.0) and average margin after the first quarter (4.5). In the first three games of this series, the Rockets haven’t been able to get off to a good start and establish the pace of the game early.
The Rockets are 20-2 on the season when they score at least 35 points in the opening period. With a hostile crowd behind the Timberwolves’ newfound confidence, a great start is exactly what the Rockets need to regain control of this series in Game 4.
If the Rockets can put some points on the board early and defend the 3-point line better on Monday, they should be able to take a 3-1 lead back to Houston for Game 5.