Coming off a spirited comeback in New York yesterday, if the Miami Heat (43-14) can avoid a letdown tonight, the 2012-13 version of the club will hold a team record for consecutive victories with 15.
Miami has not lost a game since Feb. 1 at Indiana, who the Heat play next Sunday in what could be an intriguing game if the Heat are still streaking. But the point is, all of that would be spoiled if they run into a team on a hot night or don't approach the next few opponents with any intensity.
So first up is the Timberwolves, who have missed their best player in Kevin Love for most of the season, and have struggled to a 20-36 record. The Timberwolves are 24th in the league in defensive rating, but surprisingly have been average offensively. Regardless, the Wolves are absolutely decimated, and Miami will be facing a shell of what the Wolves were projected to be coming into the season. Not only is Love out, but starting center Nikola Pekovic and small forward Andrei Kirilenko are also out, giving the Wolves a starting frontcourt entirely comprised of their second unit. This is tragic for what could have been an exciting and fun team to watch.
The Timberwolves have not beat Miami since Feb. 23, 2010, and the matchup just isn't a convenient for them.
The Wolves are dead last in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage, and are flirting with being only the second team in the last ten seasons to finish a season shooting under 30 percent from beyond the arc. This plays right into Miami's defense, and the Heat will gladly pack the paint and fan the ball outside. Good ball movement and long distance shooting can bother Miami's defense, but without it, the Wovles have no spacing offensively and will likely struggle.
Miami on the other hand, is playing supremely efficiently on offense right now.
* In the last matchup between these two teams, Dwyane Wade scored 24 points and LeBron James added 22 points in a 103-92 victory over the Timberwolves on Dec. 18 at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
* Wade is averaging 27.6 points on 61.0 percent shooting over the past five games. He looks as healthy as he can be and is producing like the elite player he is. Check out this Hot Hot Hoops piece on how Wade is producing out of the post this season.
* Mario Chalmers for three!: The Heat's starting point guard shot 44.6 percent from beyond the arc in January, 44.7 percent from 3-point distance in February and is already off to a hot start to start March. After a slow start to the season, Chalmers is shooting 41 percent on 3-pointers. His True Shooting percentage is now 55.6.
* There is no other way to put this, but Chris Bosh has played like Doo Doo since the All-Star break. The Heat's center is scoring 12 points on 42 percent shooting in seven games after the break. He's snatching just 4.4 rebounds during the stretch.
Looking for Miami Heat tickets? Hot Hot Hoops has you covered.