Four Signs from Game One the Rockets Will Finish the T-Wolves Quickly

James Harden is a man on a mission.
James Harden is a man on a mission. Photo by Eric Sauseda
No one in the Rockets locker room will want to look at the tape of Sunday's nights 104-101 win, except maybe James Harden and Clint Capela. There were a lot of ugly moments. Chris Paul said he looked like "the Bad News Bears" on the floor, pre-Kelly Leak, we assume.

But, there was quite a bit of good news that came out of that game (besides the win) to indicate this Rockets team is likely to make short order of Minnesota in this first round series.

Chris Paul will not continue to be this bad.

Six turnovers and only four assists. Even on a really rough night, it is rare to see Paul with a negative assist-to-turnover ratio. Throughout the season, Paul was certainly the most reliable ball handler on the team. There was no reason not to trust him with the ball in the most pressure packed situations. Sunday night, you might have had reason to prefer if he didn't have the ball in his hands. That simply won't continue. He may have off shooting nights, but CP3 is one of the best point guards of the era. His handles will improve.

Three pointers will begin to fall.

The Rockets had a handful of bad shooting games during the season that rivaled the 3-25 shooting by guys not named James Harden on Sunday, but not many. This is a team that has relied on the three more than any other in NBA history. Even in games where they shot a fairly poor percentage, they still managed to make enough to be better than most offenses. That was the case Sunday. But, had they gone even 6-25, it's likely they coasted to a double-digit victory and even that is a bad percentage. Shots will fall eventually.

The defense was outstanding in game one.

With all the struggles on offense, team defense was quite good. Minnesota was in the top 10 in offense all season and they looked out of sorts much of the game. The Rockets managed this by a sagging into the paint and forcing T-Wolves shooters to beat them. The Wolves ranked towards the bottom of the league in threes attempted and it showed. And the clogged paint made it difficult for Karl-Anthony Towns to operate.

James Harden is clearly on a mission.

Harden didn't just look good against the Wolves, he looked determined. He made great decision after great decision, shooting, passing and defending. He was steady and focused. That is the Harden fans have wanted to see in the postseason and it seems fairly clear this is the guy we are going to see in these playoffs. Great for the Rockets, scary for opponents.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke