HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 15: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets talks with media after the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game One of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 15, 2018 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
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Rockets Recap: Playoffs Game 1 vs MIN

We review the Rockets' Game 1 victory over Minnesota to start the 2018 Playoffs.

Houston - Last night, the Rockets began postseason play as the number one seed in the Western Conference for the first time in franchise history. The eigth-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves, appearing in their first playoff game since 2004, came to Toyota Center and put up a fight but the home team held serve and took down the win behind an MVP-caliber performance by James Harden. The Beard finished the game with 44 points and 8 assists and hit a barrage of step-back three-pointers and driving layups, along with one monster dunk in the second half to lead Red Nation to the first win of the second season.

With the win, the Rockets take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series against the Timberwolves. In NBA history, the winner of Game 1 of the First Round has gone on to win the series 80.5% of the time. Houston has won the opening game of the playoffs in three of the past four years and advanced to the next round each of those three times. Last night's final score was 104-101. The Rockets won seven of their final eight games that were decided by five or fewer points in the regular season and were 12-4 overall.

The Rockets outshot the Wolves 47.0% to 43.8%.  During the regular season, Houston was 38-2 when outshooting its opponent and 43-5 when shooting 45.0% or better.  The Rockets were 28-2 when holding the opposition below 45.0% shooting this season.  Minnesota shot 47.2% vs. Houston during the regular season but still finished 0-4 with the Rockets sweeping the season series.

Houston had just 11 turnovers.  The Rockets were 28-2 when having 12 or fewer turnovers this season and ranked tied for 11th in the NBA with 13.8 tpg, after finishing 26th with 15.1 tpg in 2016-17.  Houston averaged just 11.3 tpg vs. Minnesota during the regular season.  The Wolves ranked tied for fourth in the league in turnovers forced (opponents: 15.1 tpg).

The Rockets had 8 blocks.  Houston was 17-0 when having 7+ blocks during the regular season, including its final game against Minnesota on 3/18.

Houston won despite shooting 27.0% from 3-point range.  The Rockets shot 43.4% from behind-the-arc against Minnesota during the regular season and had more than twice as many 3FGM as the Timberwolves (69-34).  Houston had just two more 3FGM than Minnesota last night (10-8).  The Rockets were 16-12 when shooting 33.3% or worse from downtown during the regular season, but Houston was 30-5 when holding opponents below 10 3FGM in 2017-18.

The Rockets won despite being outrebounded 47-37.  Houston and Minnesota were separated by a single rebound across their four regular season meetings.  The Rockets were only outrebounded by 10+ boards six times in 2017-18, but were actually 4-2 in those games.

James Harden had 44 points on 15-of-26 shooting, including 7-of-12 from 3-point range.  That ties for his second-highest total in the playoffs (45 vs. Golden State on 5/25/15) and marks his fifth 40-point game in the postseason.  The 7 3FGM ties Harden’s career playoff high.  He led the NBA with 265 3FGM this season.

Clint Capela had 20 points and 10 rebounds in the first half and finished with 24 and 12 for the game.  The Rockets were 12-0 when he scored 20+ points during the regular season.  Capela had 42 double-doubles in 2017-18 after having a total of 25 his first three seasons.  He also had 3 blocks in game 1.  The Rockets were 21-0 when Capela had 3+ blocks during the regular season.  Capela averaged 18.8 ppg on 78.9% shooting against Minnesota during the regular season.

Game 2 is Wednesday night at Toyota Center.

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