* Tonight on ESPN: Rockets vs. Timberwolves (7:30 ET)
With Karl-Anthony Towns playing out of character, Jimmy Butler still trying to find his way back to form from injury and the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 2-0 hole against the Houston Rockets in their first-round playoff series, Tom Thibodeau’s team is in need of a spark in Game 3. They need something that will lift the spirits of the home fans as they get their first taste of playoff basketball in ages (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Might the answer be found in the legs of Jeff Teague? The Timberwolves speedy point guard could be a game changer, literally. Since the Timberwolves had have no luck allowing the Rockets to dictate the pace of games, perhaps cranking up the tempo with Teague can turn the tide in this series? Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune examines what could be the Timberwolves’ last resort:
Another sellout crowd will pack Target Center on Saturday night, this time for an NBA playoff game Timberwolves fans have waited to cheer at for 14 long years.
The way point guard Jeff Teague sees it, his team must play for the first time in this best-of-seven series against Houston with a purpose and pace that matches the arena’s energy if they intend to avoid elimination’s brink.
“Play with a lot of tempo and try to get the crowd into the game,” Teague said. “Make it a fast-paced game.”
He said his team didn’t do that often enough in the series’ first two games, when they took the Rockets down to the final second before losing by three points Sunday and scored only 82 points after a lopsided second quarter Wednesday in Houston.
“What we’ve been playing like hasn’t worked,” Teague said. “We lost both games, and we played a slow pace. I think we played right into their hands. Last time we played them here at home [in March], we got out in the second half and picked up the pace and made it a closer game. That’s the only way we can play to be successful against this team.”
Teague wants to give Target Center fans something to cheer in the first playoff game held there since Kevin Garnett and Latrell Sprewell beat the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals before they lost the series in six games.