Harden scores 44 as Rockets edge Wolves

This is the life of a heavy underdog in the NBA playoffs

This is the life of a heavy underdog in the NBA playoffs

James Harden was simply unstoppable.

If you spent any time perusing National Basketball Association playoff predictions over the three days since the Timberwolves do-or-die victory over the Nuggets on Wednesday night, you probably noticed that not too many folks are giving the eighth-seeded Wolves a fighting chance to challenge the 65-win Rockets in the first round of the playoffs.

No one expected the eighth-seeded Wolves to win Game 1 - many don't expect them to win a game in this series - but Sunday set up well for the upset.

Houston overall finished the game shooting under 30 percent from deep. With AP Photos.James Harden scored 44 points and the Houston Rockets held off the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-101 in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series. The next possession, he fed Clint Capela with an easy alley oop, an explanation mark on the Rockets' big run. The big man was a force on both ends, holding Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns to just eight points. His teams were bounced in the first round five times, and the other four they lost in the second round.

The Minnesota Timberwolves played about as well defensively as they could have hoped in Game 1 against the Houston Rockets and it still wasn't enough. The Wolves are 37-22 with Butler this year and 10-13 without him. That Wolves team got swept, and many outside of the Twin Cities expect that again this time around. At no point did Butler take over the game, finishing with 13 points. Towns, Butler and Andrew Wiggins, who scored 18 on 7-for-15 shooting, will have to produce much more offensively for the underdog Wolves to have a shot.

I just don't see the Wolves being able to do that because it would require their becoming a team they haven't been in the other 82 games this season.

Houston and James Harden are the best regular season team in the National Basketball Association (and very possibly just the best team in the National Basketball Association, period).

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