The Wolves are vying for the top seed, while the Rockets are striving to secure a playoff spot.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets are both aiming for crucial late-season victories as they face off Tuesday night in Minneapolis. Minnesota, with a record of 51-23, is coming off a 109-101 loss at home against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, dropping them to third place in the Western Conference as of Monday. However, with eight games left to play, they still have an opportunity to chase the top spot. Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards emphasized that the team wasn’t dwelling too much on the loss, considering their recent successful stretch, winning four out of their last eight games.

On the other hand, the Houston Rockets, currently at 38-36, are in a tougher spot as they compete for a play-in spot in the Western Conference. Two games behind the Golden State Warriors for the final spot with eight games remaining, the Rockets are facing a more challenging situation. Their recent 125-107 loss at home against the Dallas Mavericks ended an 11-game winning streak. Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr. stressed the importance of moving on from the defeat and focusing on the next game, acknowledging the tough environment they’ll face in Minnesota.

The Rockets continue to be without Alperen Sengun, sidelined since March 10 due to a sprained right ankle. Sengun, averaging 21.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, is a significant absence for the team. Jalen Green leads the Rockets in scoring after Sengun, with 19.9 points per game, followed by Fred VanVleet (16.7) and Smith Jr. (13.6).

For the Timberwolves, Edwards leads the team with 26.1 points per game, while Karl-Anthony Towns follows with 22.1 points per game, although Towns is currently out with a knee injury. Rudy Gobert and Naz Reid have stepped up in Towns’ absence, contributing to fill the void in scoring and rebounding.

Edwards expressed a desire to improve his shooting performance from beyond the arc, having struggled in the past two games, going 0-for-13 from 3-point range. Despite this, he remains optimistic about finding his rhythm.

This game marks the third and final matchup of the regular season between the Timberwolves and the Rockets, with Minnesota winning the previous two encounters. They won 122-95 on Jan. 5 in Houston and followed up with a 111-90 victory on their home court on Feb. 4.

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