(Jim Mone / Associated Press)
The first round of the NBA Playoffs continues today with two crucial Game 4s. Follow here for the latest analysis and commentary from NBA reporter Tim Bontemps of The Post and ask him questions in the comments. Find out about yesterday's games here.
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This game could be over quickly.
The Rockets opened the second half with a 13-2 run, giving them a one-point lead for Houston on a 12-point lead.
That was the kind of run Houston would do in the first half, but he could not buy a basket. And for Minnesota, a team that's having a hard time winning the math equation against Houston, because of the number of threes the Rockets take (and not wolves), such a track can be death.
The Minnesota Timberwolves remain in Game 4 thanks to an unlikely hero: Derrick Rose.
Yes, that would be the same Derrick Rose who was thrown away by the Cleveland Cavaliers early in the season, waiting weeks to find a new home before landing in Minnesota. But now, with the Timberwolves season on the line, he produces.
Rose has 11 points in the first half, leading Minnesota scorers and having them within a half-time, 50-49. That's even though Karl-Anthony Towns is in lazy annoyance, Minnesota's seven turnovers (compared to only two for Houston) and the Wolves 3 for 10 out of a three-point range.
How he did it was also important as Rose constantly attacked the paint. Now 4 of 5 from the field, Rose made a three and took another long sweater, but his other three shots all came right on the edge.
If Rose pledged to be such a player moving forward – one that does not take inferior, inefficient shots and instead relentlessly attacks the rim – there's a chance Rose might play a role as a prolific player can work in the league. That's something I did not think, admittedly, I would say.
Meanwhile, this first half must be a victory for the Rockets. They missed a ton of shots – shot a total of 38.8 percent and went from 25 to 25 out of 3 – and yet ended it by one. The Timberwolves will face great difficulties when Houston do everything right in the second half and can look back on their own offensive bouts in the first half, as a missed opportunity to spoil this series.
The Hall of Fame is tall men in TNT's "Inside The NBA" set, Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley have repeatedly begged Karl-Anthony Towns to take advantage of the smaller players during this season from the Rockets were switched on him.
The second quarter of Game 4, Cities exploits.
He has six points and five rebounds in eight minutes after most of the first with foul trouble has been missing and attacked mid-Clint Capela and Guard Eric Gordon in the post in the last few minutes
Towns is a standout offensive player, who is able to shoot at the three-point line and be devastating with the size and footwork in the paint. He's a gun Houston does not have a good answer to when he gets moving, and his shooting attempts were an ongoing story in Minnesota all season.
The second quarter, however, has shown what he is capable of
Also Tucker returned to Houston and seems to be in order.
Jeff Teague returned to Minnesota to play after he had nipped his finger. Houston hopes that P. J. Tucker can do the same after injuring his left leg.
Tucker fell into a pile as he drove to the basket and possibly twisted his left ankle or injured his left knee before falling to the ground. He finally stood up and then hobbled into the dressing room.
A short time later, Tucker returned to the bench and put on his warm-up exercises without saying anything about his status.
For a Rockets team, switching every screen, appreciating both Tucker's defensive tenacity and shooting ability, would make him a real hit – especially with Luc Mbah a Moute, who already has a shoulder injury.
The Houston Rockets had the best record in the NBA. They tied the Golden State Warriors for having the NBA's best offensive. They made – and tried – more threesomes than any other NBA team.
So what happened in Houston's first-round series, in which the Rockets look much more normal than nuclear in their first three games against the Minnesota Timberwolves?
According to Rocket's coach Mike D & # 39; Antoni, his team lost its rhythm.
"I'd say [the past] few months we did not play very well," D & # 39; Antoni said before the Sunday training, the day after a loss of 121-105, which led the Rockets' series to 2-1 , "That's why I've been worried all along that we guys are resting and getting out of rhythm. [People say]" It does not really mean much. "" It does. "
" Anyway, we're, where we are. We will be fine. It's gonna be okay. "
Chances are, D & # 39; Antoni will prove right Houston has the alleged league MVP in James Harden, another Hall of Famer guardian in James Harden, and shooters in abundance.  That being said, the Timberwolves, one of the NBA's worst defensive teams this season, have been able to slow them down in the series so far, some of which are attributable to chance, as Houston scored 31.6 percent in their first three games Turned to three after shooting 36.5 in the regular season.
But it's one thing for role-players to shoot during the regular season. "It's another when the pressure in the playoffs rises when the opponent Responding to tendencies and just playing a lot harder.
And the first quarter of Game 4 should not rock anybody for Houston who feels better about his offensive issues, the Rockets were 6 for 23 in the first Qu Remove Trevor Ariza and Eric Gordon, who went 5 for 7, and this number drops to 16 in 1 for 16.
Houston is still sitting in the driver's seat and is the favorite of the Western Conference Finals and the Warriors. But the offensive that goes from atom to normal in this postseason will be a storyline worth watching.
At first, Karl-Anthony Towns left the game with nasty problems, and now Jeff Teague is injured for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The launch postman left the game and was escorted into the dressing room by the team's medical staff after he seemed to be fingering one hurt defensive ball.
Teague and Towns are the best shooters of Minnesota's typical starter – and The Wolves do not have many other shooters left. If his game is compromised because of this injury, an already difficult task was suddenly made much more difficult.
Not the ideal start for Minnesota, to say the least – even if the wolves are only one, 16-15, late in the first quarter.
The Minnesota Timberwolves got off to a hot start. The crowd was in the game. They got some early baskets.
And then Karl-Anthony Towns got two fouls.
It initially looked as if the All-Star Center would go to the line when the whistle blew, assuming he was attacking the basket. But he was (properly) called to an offensive foul for holding Rocket striker P. J. Tucker with his off-arm.
That was the last thing the Timberwolves, 2-1 in this series, needed early in the game. The already difficult task of keeping up with Houston's high-profile offensive play will be even more difficult with the league's best offensive midfield – at least for the vast majority of the first quarter due to bad problems.
The Oklahoma City Thunder came with sky-high expectations this season. After winning 47 games a year ago with Russell Westbrook setting up a historic, MVP-winning season, the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in the postseason should make the thunder back into a championship contender faster than expected, Kevin Durant firing for the Bay Area in the freelance agency in 2016.
Things have not gone according to plan.
Anthony has played far less than expected as the team's third option. Andre Roberson, who eventually wanted to be named NBA Defensive Player of the Year, lost to the season with a patellar tendril injury at the end of January and changed the formula on which Donner built his team.
With Thunder falling 2: 1 against Utah Jazz arriving in Game 4 of Monday's first round match Monday night, OKC is back in the same position as last year: possibly out of the playoffs in the first five games Round.
We have told Westbrook that he will "close this s-off" after Ricky Rubio has scored 28 points to lift Utah to his game 3-win Saturday night. We have Derrick Favors, who plays Anthony in games 2 and 3 and wins a matchup that is likely to decide the outcome of this series. And we have Steven Adams, who had little trouble this season and got both 2 and 3 calls in the games and helped turn the series in Utah's direction.
What has to change in Game 4? For one, Adams has to stay in the square. There may not be a single player in the league who is stronger than the giant New Zealander, and with him on the field Rudy Gobert's excessive influence on jazz is somewhat limited. Without Adams, Gobert can roam freely and wreak havoc.
Anthony has to meet too. Utah has played better in this series, as Favors and Gobert were able to share the court – something that would be much more difficult for jazz if Anthony punished them for guarding him with favors. That was not really the case and allowed Utah to take control.
And, perhaps most important, the thunder needs Westbrook to play like himself. He will never be a good three-point shooter, but after scoring 10 to 21 for two-point shots in game 1, he has gone 9 to 29 in the last two together – a tribute to the influence that Gobert has in color. This can also be attributed to Adams getting into trouble as the Westbrook Adams pick-and-roll – one of Oklahoma City's strengths and something that Gobert struggled with in Game 1 – has been neutralized in the last two games ,  Westbrook's defiant response about Rubio's shoot after Match 3 became the subject to be discussed by everyone until the official Monday in Salt Lake City. And while, yes, Westbrook just can not be dubbed by Rubio as he was in Game 3, it will take much more than that for Oklahoma City to win the profit needed to improve that series Monday night.  Mondays Schedule :
- Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves (Rockets perform 2-1); 8 pm, TNT
- Oklahoma City Thunder in Utah Jazz (Jazz performs 2-1); 10:30 pm, TNT
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