Rockets 102 - Wolves 82 - 3 > 2

By Forrest Walker on April 18, 2018

I'm pretty sure three is more than two. Nobody has provided me with a convincing argument to the contrary, and in fact my early estimates suggest that three is up to 50% more than two. This mathematical theory was the core of a number of predictions about this playoff series, and they seem to be borne out by this particular game. The Houston Rockets shot only 3% better from the field than the Minnesota Timberwolves, shot the same number of free throws, but they won by 20. If the Rockets don't go badly cold, things look very bad for the Wolves.
The Rockets have played two playoff games thus far and have won both. Again, my math suggests that you can't do any better than that. After an opening game marred by terrible shooting, tonight's game started in much the same way. The Rockets fell behind early as they shot a mere 5-25 in the first quarter, and it looked like a similar story would transpire.

Instead, the script was flipped. Rather than Harden shooting the lights out while the rest of the team clanked shots, Harden had more blocks (3) than field goals (2-18) while the Rockets actually hit some threes (30.8%) and picked up a huge win. The Wolves now head back to Minnesota with their backs to the wall. If they can't put together a win on Saturday night, they'll fall into a 0-3 hole, a situation no NBA team has ever overcome. This is, of course, excellent news for the Rockets, as is the other part of their inversion from game 1: Chris Paul.

Paul had a miserable game 1 performance, all but disappearing. Tonight, he appeared in this game, resplendent and terrifying. Paul bounced back with a game-high 27 points on 10-18 shooting, including 3-5 from deep. His 8 assists and 3 steals complete a line which doesn't fully express the wizardry Paul exhibited. Every shot, every falling layup seemed to fall in. He frustrated and confused the defense all night, and was a key cog in Houston's stifling defense.

The other hero was, of course, Houston native son Gerald Green. Gerald has never met a three he didn't like, and he loved them all tonight. He shot 5-12  from deep to score 21 points overall and grab an astonishing 12 boards. He did everything necessary to secure a win for his home town team, and continues to solidify his play in the hearts of Rockets fans worldwide. He sat next to Harden in the post-game interview, replete in a Warren Moon Oilers Jersey, and spoke repeatedly of his desire to bring a championship to Houston. If he keeps shooting the way he did tonight, he's a powerful weapon in that quest.

The Rockets have enough weapons and enough defenders that it would require a complete meltdown for them to lost to most teams. All season long, the Houston Rockets were told they had to prove their mettle in the Playoffs. Rather than shying away from it, than deflecting with their regular season numbers, they consistently agreed, and have been sharpening their knives for the postseason.

Well, the playoffs are here, and they're wielding some sharp knives indeed. All it took tonight was for them to hit their three pointers at a reasonable rate and it was a blowout. The Timberwolves can and will make adjustments. Unfortunately for them, they can't adjust the one thing they need to most. Nobody in the world can make two more than three.

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