NBA Playoffs 2018: Postseason Standings, Championship Odds and Predictions

James Harden

NBA Playoffs 2018: Postseason Standings, Championship Odds and Predictions

Still, if the Raptors can slow down Wall and Beal - or even just one of them - they'll have a good chance at winning Game 5. The Rockets will find a way to get past the seventh-seeded Pelicans, but it will take seven hard-fought games. Minnesota still held a four-point lead at halftime, but Houston exploded for 67 points in the second half to win going away. Russell Westbrook dropped 20 points in the third quarter alone, and the game was tied heading into the fourth.

Paul also woke up in the second half to finish with 12 points, nine assists and five rebounds.

The Timberwolves battled throughout the second half, but by midway through the third quarter, the damage had been done. However, a 50 point third quarter opened up game four. If Utah wins this series, they will go play Houston (probably). Then after Minnesota took a brief one-point lead, the Rockets went on a 16-2 spurt to effectively decide the game. The Game 3 loss was a low point for Houston, as it struggled to limit the Wolves' perimeter scoring. They'll look to wrap up the series in OKC today, as well. Did they prove their playoff struggles are behind them? Playing without Kawhi Leonard and Gregg Popovich, San Antonio fought valiantly, almost stealing game five on the road.

The Rockets' other guys provided a lift.

Former Los Angeles Clippers star Corey Maggette backed the Houston Rockets to come out on top in the Western Conference ahead of the Golden State Warriors game as he feels they are hungrier than the reigning champions. Clint Capela also came up big, keeping Houston afloat in the first half. Toronto's second unit scored a combined 54 points on 38 percent shooting in Games 3 and 4. And yes, that tiny drop-off meant a precious extra inch of space for the Rockets' floor commanders James Harden and Chris Paul to exploit.

The Wolves got consecutive 3s by Jamal Crawford and Wiggins to cut the lead after that, but the Rockets scored the next five points to end that run and cruise to the victory. Houston shot 18 of 44 from long distance and only committed five turnovers. After two complete duds to start the series, Towns finished off the series strong, although it was obviously not almost enough to matter.

Karl-Anthony Towns continued his trend of improving with each and every game of the series, grabbing eight first quarter rebounds and scoring virtually every time he had a mismatch in the post.

Towns believes the experience of his first trip to the postseason will help him moving forward. It's a work in progress.

Despite the series result, this was a successful season for Towns and the Wolves. That team finished 54-28, beat Houston in six games in the first round of the '08 playoffs and won two home games over the Lakers before missing two late 3-point tries that could have sent Game 6 into overtime. OKC has the talent to claw back from a 3-1 deficit, but it can not do so without Carmelo Anthony (22-of-61 shooting for the series) stepping up offensively.

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