HOUSTON – When Karl-Anthony Towns complained to the referee and asked for a shot on goal after his layup was taken off the glass, Clint Capela broke out a sprint. Five seconds after his all-star opponent was blocked, Capela put the ball in the other end of the basket after overtaking every player in the field.
This sequence at the beginning of Game 5 summed up the series for two of the two NBA's most promising young centers.
Jimmy Butler sat in the last quarter of the Timberwolves season final loss to the Rockets due to right knee pain, coach Tom Thibodeau said:
Towns, 22, the # 1 overall selection that has evolved into an All-Star and was not thrilled at its first taste of the playoffs. Capela, 23, a lesser-known lover of the first round, who has dramatically improved each season, was often a dominant force, though he played a complementary role.
The raw numbers for the centers in the series were quite similar. Cities averaged 15.2 points and 13.4 rebounds, compared with 15.8 points and 14.2 rebounds for Capela. But their impact was not comparable, as Capelas relentless energy played a key role in the Houston Rockets, ending the Timberwolves in five games, a stark contrast to Town's often passive game.
"He's just getting better and keeps hearing and working his butt off," said Rocket star James Harden of Capela after top-seeded Houston eliminated 122-104 Wednesday's win at Minnesota. "This series has shown it, playing against guys we call All-Stars or whatever you want, he does not really care about the name, he just goes out and does his job every night, that's why we're in." the position that we are. "
Capela can not do what Towns does, he's never going to have such a versatile assault arsenal, he's not a New Age big man with the ability to score anywhere on the ground, the Rockets do not challenge him, that sort of thing
James Harden collapses as the Rockets pick up their intensity during the game to win a series regardless of which team they play in the second round  The Rockets love Capela as much as he is, perfect for playing with a pair of future Hall of Famer playmakers in Harden and Chris Paul, more than happy to focus on running the ground, scrolling, Rolling, Rounding Out, and Protecting the Rim
Mid-season that the Rockets were better than the Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant relinquished his right to be so brave and said his work was too easy, but Capela did Sicherl I deserve the respect of the league's coaches who realize how important he is to the Rocket's realistic title hopes.
"He plays in his role," said Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau.
Thibodeau gave much out of the early part of the series, which publicly publicizes cities to play with more energy. He explicitly mentioned the importance of running the ground several times after Houston led the cities, which often played twice in the team, to single-digit points in the first two games.
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But it's much easier said than done to overtake Capela, a gazelle in Nikes who does not need to be reminded that he can influence the game simply by sprinting.
"I always try to have that pace," said Capela, who has been working to increase his stamina so that he can play with maximum effort for 33 minutes, as he did during Game 5. "I feel Always on the offensive at every sprint That way, I feel like I'm really helping my team, I'm really trying to focus and sustain that energy. "
Rockets manager Mike D & # 39; Antoni calls Capela "undervalued," jokingly that the label will no longer apply once the big man's agent negotiates with Houston general manager Daryl Morey as a limited freelance agent this summer. There is no question that Capela's work, often overshadowed by the eye-catching brilliance of Houston's famous headliners, is highly prized in the Rocket organization.
There may be times when Capela's grunting work can go under. When you set full screens, SportsCenter is not displayed. Even after switching to guards does not play a good defense. And the fans do not celebrate the guy who has sucked in the help defense by being hard-edged to create an open 3 for a teammate. But these are all critical elements of the success of the Rockets, which Capela consistently delivers.
"We only expect it from him," Paul said. "He runs the court, he plays hard, he puts hard screens in. Many times people talk about the shots and passes and things we do, but he opens everything for us because he's a threat when he rolls to the edge. "
Then there are occasions like his bookends in this first round, if you can not miss Capela. He opened the playoffs with a 24-point, 12-rebound, 3-block masterpiece. He shut out the Timberwolves by picking up game highlights with 26 points and 15 rebounds and went 12-of-14 from the field, with most of his buckets rocking the edge.
"You will not be much better than that," D & # # 39; s Antoni. "In this role he has, nobody is better in the league."