By Griffin Finch
The Houston Rockets won the West this past regular season and earned the right to take on the eighth seeded Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round. While it is true that the Timberwolves are more talented than your average eighth seed team, they just did not have the firepower to score with the likes of James Harden who won this years scoring title averaging 30 points per game. The Rockets actually didn’t play all that well in this series, which says a lot about them as a team considering that they convincingly won in five games.
The Minnesota Timberwolves played nearly as well as they could of against the Rockets. If I had to pick something to complain about, I would say Karl Anthony-Towns needed to be more aggressive. However, I understand that he is a young player in only his third year in the league, and his first time in the playoffs. He did start to look for his shot more and more as the series progressed. This is just the Rockets year. They simply were not going home in the first round and unfortunately for Minnesota that’s when they got put face to face with them.
The Houston Rockets this year put on display one of the most potent offenses ever seen in the NBA. Led by James Harden who will be this years MVP and Chris Paul who is also capable of averaging 20 and 10 for a season steam rolled through the regular season and continued into the playoffs. Mike D’antoni’s system is made perfectly for Harden. With him and Chris Paul sharing primary ball handling responsibilities, knock down shooters filling the wings and athletic bigs who can run the floor putting up more threes than ever seen before at a percentage that is unheard of, they are going to destroy anyone they face who can’t score at their pace. Their percentages even dipped slightly in the first round, but because they were so dominate you missed it if you weren’t really paying attention. The Rockets truly earned the Western Conference crown this season.
The Minnesota Timberwolves don’t need to do much this offseason. They have their star players and they have a championship caliber coach. If they look to make any moves they should add some shooters to help spread the floor. Even if they do nothing, all of their young player will get better during the offseason and the playoff experience no matter how minimal will be appreciated next season where hopefully they will be there again and this time be ready to really make some noise. Houston goes on to face the Jazz who played exceptionally well against the Thunder. However, I believe the Rockets will handle the Jazz quickly and proceed to the conference finals. At this point if they do not lose to the Warriors they will win the 2018 NBA championship.