January 18, 2018, 7:26 pm
The Rockets are mad right now.
They’re losers of eight of their last 13 games, facing a wealth of injuries and most recently handed down a couple of suspensions to rotation players as a result of a confrontation on Tuesday, which the players claim is being inaccurately reported in the media. Drama is filtering through the organization.
Whatever the case the Rockets’ players feel slighted as being cast as the bad guys in all this when they feel they were just standing up for their teammates and coach, who was targeted by Blake Griffin.
The Timberwolves are privileged to face this suddenly angry team in the spotlight of primetime television after losing to the Orlando Magic on Tuesday in a game where they looked robotic at best.
This is a huge game. The Rockets are second in the Western Conference and the Wolves are fourth. Minnesota has dominated the West with a 23-6 record but they have only faced the teams ahead of them three times this season, where they are 1-2.
This marks their first chance to show the Rockets who the new kids on the block are.
Of course the Rockets may be somewhat depleted themselves. James Harden his missed seven games with an injury, and while he’s expected to return he could be limited or delayed completely. They’ll certainly be missing Trevor Ariza, Gerald Green and Nene, the former two thanks to suspensions.
Regardless of who’s on the floor for the Rockets they are going to play the same exact way, hoist as many 3-pointers as possible and as quick as possible. As a team the Rockets rank first in the NBA in 3-point attempts per game, by far, at 43.6 and make the most (unsurprisingly).
The NBA record for 3-point attempts as a team on a per game basis is 40.3 per game, which was set last year by the Rockets. They truly live and die by the three, as the saying goes.
The Rockets typically play a four-out, one-in lineup meaning Clint Capela is the only player inside the 3-point arc while the other four players are spaced around the perimeter. They almost never post up or run interior plays. Everything is based on the perimeter or in transition. They frequently use the pick-and-roll or drive and kick, usually to find open shooters.
It’s an offensive system that’s based on sheer volume and is quite effective for teams that are able to defend the other side of the court. The Rockets are able to do just that. Ariza and Paul aren’t the defenders they once were, but are still effective. Capela is one of the best at the center position. Ryan Anderson is bad, but behind him P.J. Tucker is excellent.
Their style of play is controversial, basketball purists would have a heart attack watching it consistently, but it is the modern version of the NBA on steroids. If the Wovles are able to keep up offesnively it could make for a very entertaining contest.
– Karl-Anthony Towns vs. Clint Capela
The defensive gameplan against the Rockets is fairly simple, contest their 3-point shots at all costs. Teams know that a huge portion of the offense is coming from beyond the arc. If they get hot from outside it’s game over before teams even have a chance.
With that in mind if a team is guarding the 3-point line well, Capela can’t be forgotten about in the interior. He’s sixth in the NBA in offensive rebounding and has no problem grabbing the board and going back up for a dunk, or kicking out for another 3-point try.
Capela is the prototypical fifth man for this offense. He can out-run opposing centers in the open floor, is an excellent rim-runner and is fine taking a limited amount of shots. He picks up 14.3 points per game simply being in the right spot at the right time.
This assignment is going to be tougher than usual for Towns as he will lack the usual help inside while having to deal with a physical presence. Towns is almost on an island inside shared only with Capela. If he gets into trouble no one will be there to help.
The pick-and-roll will be especially tough with Gibson having to stay out on Anderson and Butler or Teague forced to be the help on Capela.
Jeff Teague – PG
Jimmy Butler – SG
Andrew Wiggins – SF
Taj Gibson – PF
Karl-Anthony Towns – C
Chris Paul – PG
James Harden – SG
Luc Mbah a Moute – SF
Ryan Anderson – PF
Clint Capela – C
Trevor Ariza – SUSPENDED
Gerald Green – SUSPENDED
Zhou Qi (elbow) – OUT
Troy Williams (knee) – OUT
Where to Watch:
9:30 ET/8:30 CT on TNT
November 12, 2019, 1:40 amLou WilliamsSG, Los Angeles Clippers
Lou Williams kept his foot on the gast with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting to go with four rebounds, four assists, a steal and two triples against the Raptors on Monday.
Williams played 36 minutes and was struggling to start this one, but finished strong. He's still a prime sell-high guy, especially with Paul George (shoulder) returning this week.
November 12, 2019, 1:40 amKawhi LeonardSF, Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi Leonard couldn't get his shot to fall in Monday's 98-88 win over the Raptors, scoring 12 points on 2-of-11 shooting while adding 11 rebounds, nine assists and three blocks.
Leonard went 0-for-4 from deep and didn't make his second field goal until midway into the fourth quarter. The Raptors sent traps and doubles at Leonard all night and he made the right play, passing out to open teammates which is how he was so close to a triple-double. Leonard has evolved as a playmaker and is evidenced by him averaging a career-high 5.4 assists this season.
November 12, 2019, 1:37 amMontrezl HarrellPF, Los Angeles Clippers
Montrezl Harrell scored 14 points with 11 rebounds while adding two assists, two steals and three blocks on Monday.
Harell shot 7-for-15 from the floor which is actually a bit low for his standards and missed both free throws, but the added defensive stats make tonight a great one for him.
November 12, 2019, 1:36 amJaMychal GreenPF, Los Angeles Clippers
JaMychal Green scored 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting and added 12 rebounds, one assist and a block to his line on Monday.
Green played 24 minutes off the bench and had his usual rebounding numbers, but went 0-for-5 from deep. In contrast, Patrick Patterson logged 15 minutes and went 4-for-8 from deep. Both players are too hard to own, especially with Paul George (shoulder) likely to return this week
November 12, 2019, 1:33 amOG AnunobySF, Toronto Raptors
OG Anunoby scored zero points with an assist before exiting Monday's game early with an eye injury.
He was inadvertently poked in the eye by Kawhi Leonard and had to leave due to some bleeding. It's unclear how much time he'll miss, but we saw Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (29 minutes, nine points, nine rebounds, one assist, three steals and a block) pick up the bulk of the minutes. He's worth a short-term stream and Anunoby will see an eye doctor on Tuesday to determine the severity of the injury.
Source: Doug Smith on Twitter
November 12, 2019, 1:33 amChris BoucherPF, Toronto Raptors
Chris Boucher had another solid outing on Monday, scoring 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting while adding six rebounds, a steal, two blocks and three 3-pointers.
Boucher played well in his 22 minutes off the bench, but he still made some crucial mistakes which led the Marc Gasol closing out the game over him. He's worth an add while Serge Ibaka (sprained ankle) is sidelined, but he's just a short-term option.
November 12, 2019, 1:33 amPascal SiakamPF, Toronto Raptors
Pascal Siakam was held in check in Monday's 88-98 loss to the Clippers with 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting while adding 10 rebounds, six assists, a block and a 3-pointer.
Siakam was on a roll prior to this game and logged 44 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back. He missed some layups that are usually automatic for him, but the fatigue was obviously a factor as he didn't have the same lift as yesterday. He still contributed across the board and should be much better against the Blazers on Wednesday.
November 12, 2019, 1:29 amFred VanVleetPG, Toronto Raptors
Fred VanVleet logged a whopping 45 minutes on Monday, scoring 14 points on 6-of-20 shooting to go with two rebounds, eight assists, three steals and a 3-pointer.
VanVleet only sat down for three minutes on a second night of a back-to-back and is being relied on heavily as the Raptors' secondary scorer. He should continue to see a ton of usage and isn't really a sell-high candidate as he was producing top-90 value before Kyle Lowry (fractured thumb) went down.
November 12, 2019, 1:27 amMarc GasolC, Toronto Raptors
Marc Gasol showed some signs of life on Monday, scoring eight points on 3-of-8 shooting while adding five rebounds, five assists, a steal, a block and two triples.
Gasol has been atrocious to own this season with averages of 26.8 minutes, 6.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.2 steals and 0.3 blocks on .345 shooting. He came in late in the fourth quarter and made some huge plays to keep the Raptors in it and with the Raptors hobbled, it gives Gasol some more room to get into a rhythm.
November 12, 2019, 1:25 amNorman PowellSF, Toronto Raptors
Norman Powell logged 37 minutes against the Clippers on Monday, scoring 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting to go with four rebounds, two assist, a block and a 3-pointer.
Powell logged a ton of minutes and should continue to do so with Kyle Lowry (fractured thumb) sidelined. Late in the fourth quarter, Powell slipped on a wet spot on the court, but it looks like he avoided an injury as he closed out the game. He's a standard-league pickup in all formats until then.