Fresh off a 30-point win against the struggling Washington Wizards, the Miami Heat will look to begin a new winning streak tonight at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ricky Rubio will sit out tonight, the second night of a back-to-back for Minnesota.
LeBron James said that his team has had some "not-so-great moments," and he's right. Miami has gone just 3-3 in their last six games. The Heat could move to within a game of the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference standings with a win tonight, though.
The Timberwolves offer stiffer competition than the Wizards or New Orleans Hornets, the last two teams Miami beat. Kevin Love has led Minnesota to a 12-10 record despite suffering an early five-game losing streak. Erik Spoelstra may continue to start Udonis Haslem tonight to battle against Love, who averages 20 points and 14 rebounds on the season. Love has shot just 36 percent from the field this year, though, so Miami will also look to force Love into a tough shooting night. But Miami has surrendered a plethora of rebounds to opposing teams this year, and Love could certainly feast on second-chance opportunities.
In addition to Love, the Heat also need to keep Nikola Pekovic off the boards. The effective 6-foot-11 role player has averaged more than three offensive boards per game this year. He's also emerged as the second-leading scorer for the Wolves. Andrei Kirilenko has returned from a year off from the NBA and become a nice third option for Minnesota. And of course, the Heat have to worry about the man who pestered them in the 2011 Finals, J.J. Barea.
For the Heat, the formula essentially resembles the team's dominant win over the Wizards. Play defense with intensity, close out to opposing 3-point shooters and let the Big Three find their open 3-point shooters. It'd also be great if Haslem could knock down a few jumpers tonight.
But don't hold your breath.
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