Here’s what the Timberwolves must do to beat the Rockets

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 11: Jimmy Butler. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 11: Jimmy Butler. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Play Stout Defense

The Rockets averaged 122.8 points per game in four games against the Wolves this season. As I also pointed out not long ago, the Rockets’ average margin of victory in those four wins was 15.8 points.

It’s not exactly easy to win a game when allowing close to 123 points against your opponent.

Defense will need to come up big if the Wolves want to become just the fourth No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the best-of-seven format. Now, this task won’t be easy and not too much can be expected. James Harden and Chris Paul have proven to be a deadly combination and they have many sidekicks to help them.

Jimmy Butler will need to stick to Harden like glue, as does Jeff Teague with Paul. Contesting each shot as best as they can will go a long way. Fighting around screens comes with that and will be just as crucial as Harden and Paul are deadly coming off of screens.

Whether they put up a shot or turn the corner to look for a kick-out, they know how to create off the screen.

With closing out shots also comes limiting three-point shots. The Rockets averaged 17.3-of-39.8 (43.4 percent) from three per game against the Wolves this year. Minnesota musto limit them to taking shots inside the arc while still contesting.

Defensive rebounding will also be huge to limit the Rockets opportunities. Karl-Anthony Towns and Taj Gibson will be key factors in this area as they need to out duel Clint Capela and P.J. Tucker.

Going off of that, we need to see this kind of physicality out of Towns throughout the series.

In other words, he should take a page out of Gibson’s book of physical play. If he can play that physical more times than not, he will win the battle down low each game.