Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets: Odds, Injuries, what to watch for

Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

After plenty of good vibes following a 3-2 stretch immediately following the All-Star break, the Minnesota Timberwolves have lost three straight games by nine or more points and are coming off of a dispiriting blowout loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.

Then again, at least the Wolves aren’t the Rockets — which is admittedly not a thing anyone has probably ever said before.

Houston broke a 20-game (!) losing streak with a Monday win over Portland and then turned around lost by 25 to a Charlotte Hornets team without LaMelo Ball on Wednesday.

This is a matchup of the two worst teams in the NBA, and to make matters even more unsightly the Rockets traded Victor Oladipo on Thursday and will likely still not have Kelly Olynyk or Avery Bradley available to play in the first game of the back-to-back set at Target Center.

Put simply, the Wolves should win this game, even without D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley, the latter of whom is serving the final game of his 12-game suspension.

Minnesota Timberwolves odds vs. Houston Rockets

The Wolves are 4.5-point favorites, according to The Action Network. When was the last time the Wolves were multi-point favorites over anyone?

TV and streaming info for Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets

What to watch for in Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets

The Timberwolves played quite well in the first week-plus following the All-Star break, beating New Orleans, plus playoff teams Portland and Phoenix. They weren’t truly blown-out in any of their first eight games out of the break, although that streak was broken against Dallas on Wednesday.

Still, losing by nine to a shorthanded Oklahoma City Thunder squad at home on Monday and fading rapidly in both last Friday’s loss to Phoenix and Wednesday’s collapse against the Mavericks weren’t exactly desired outcomes.

The Wolves have failed to find anything resembling a rhythm offensively as teams have routinely double and even triple-teamed Karl-Anthony Towns in the post. Without Beasley and Russell, Minnesota simply does not have enough shooters to make defenses pay for over-committing resources to Towns.

During Anthony Edwards‘ latest swoon, following his 42-point performance in a win over the Phoenix Suns, Jaylen Nowell has been the closest thing to a consistent second scorer that the Wolves have.

The Rockets, on the other hand, are No. 30 in the NBA in offensive rating. They’re also last in 3-point shooting percentage and bottom-five in free throw shooting percentage and total rebounds per game.

Still, Houston’s defense is fairly middle-of-the-pack, and with the Wolves’ offensive struggles of late, it’s far from a walk in the park, even for a depleted Rockets squad.

Injury report for Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets

The Rockets will be extremely shorthanded, without newcomers Olynyk and Bradley. Kevin Porter Jr., who figures to see a huge bump in playing time with Oladipo departed, is questionable with a quadriceps issue.

Houston’s Dante Exum and Eric Gordon remain out in the midst of extended injury-related absences.

Once again, the Wolves are without Russell (recovery from knee surgery) and Beasley (suspension). Josh Okogie remains out in health and safety protocols, while Jordan McLaughlin is listed as questionable for the same reason.

Next. Wolves trades that could have happened, but didn't. dark

We’ll be back immediately following the game with player grades. Enjoy Wolves-Rockets!