Timberwolves vs. Rockets odds: Picks for 2018 NBA playoffs Game 1 from data scientist who’s 19-9

The Houston Rockets open what’s expected to be a long run in the 2018 NBA playoffs Sunday against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves. Tipoff from the Toyota Center is 9 p.m. ET. Houston (65-17) walloped Minnesota in all four regular-season meetings, covering each by an average of 10 points.

To account for this apparent mismatch, bookmakers opened the Rockets as massive 10.5-point favorites. It wasn’t enough.

Early money poured in on Houston, sending the line to 11.5. The over-under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 216.5.

Before you make your point-spread pick, check out what data scientist Stephen Oh has to say. The famed co-founder of Accuscore has uncanny data on the NBA, especially the Rockets. He’s 19-9 in his past 28 picks involving Houston.

After running his advanced computer simulations, we can tell you Oh is leaning over, projecting 225 points. He also found that one side of the Minnesota-Houston spread is cashing two-thirds of the time. He’s sharing which side it is over at SportsLine.

Oh knows the Rockets rolled through the regular season, posting a pair of 14-game win streaks and finishing a whopping seven games ahead of Golden State for the West’s top seed. With James Harden (30.4 ppg, 8.8 apg), Chris Paul (18.6 ppg, 7.9 agp) and Clint Capela (13.9 ppg, 10.8 rpg) in the lineup, Houston was basically unbeatable.

But the Timberwolves, who ended a 14-year postseason drought, aren’t the same team Houston crushed during the regular season. Jimmy Butler (knee) returned a week ago from a 17-game absence and helped Minnesota win its final three games to make the playoffs.

Butler’s presence made a huge impact defensively. Minnesota held those three opponents to an average of 97 points in regulation.

Can Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns keep the Wolves close? Or will Houston make a convincing Game 1 statement and cover? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Timberwolves-Rockets spread you need to be all over, all from a famed data scientist who’s 19-9 picking Houston games.

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