The Miami Heat fell to 3-2 in the 2016-17 NBA preseason with a 101-96 loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Louisville, Kentucky with several key players resting.
Coach Erik Spoelstra opted to sit Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson and Hassan Whiteside while Josh Richardson and Josh McRoberts continue to recover from injury. Justise Winslow now remains the sole Heat player to start all five preseason games so far, though he only played seven minutes in this one.
Four of Miami’s five reserves reached double-figures, with Rodney McGruder leading the team with 15 points on 5-9 3-pt FG shooting and Wayne Ellington as well as Keith Benson chipping in 14 points each. Dion Waiters led the Heat starters with 13 points (4-7 FG shooting) and four assists in 24 minutes of action. Briante Weber continues to impress with his overall stat line of eight points, four steals, six assists and, um, five turnovers. The team shot 41.0 percent overall from the field, probably as a result of some tired legs from last night’s encouraging win against the San Antonio Spurs, but they also shot 40.6 percent from long range (not bad) and just 68.2 percent from the free throw line (not good, I’m looking at you Willie Reed).
For Minnesota, coach Tom Thibodeau started Ricky Rubio (10 points, six assists), Andrew Wiggins (23 points), Zach LaVine (nine points, eight rebounds), Gorgui Dieng (12 points) and Karl-Anthony Towns (16 points, 14 rebounds) which translated into the road team leading for most of the game, though the Heat still managed to pour in 37 points in the second quarter and 58 for the first half while also managing to close the gap in the final moments of the exhibition game at the KFC Yum! Center.
This was the second and final Heat preseason game not to be televised, and the Miami Heat will truly play as the home team on Tuesday against the Orlando Magic (again, this one will be televised so not to worry).
With two days off but with just 11 days left until the season opener on the road in Orlando, Spoelstra could still elect to rest or limit minutes for his key rotation players, including Waiters and possibly Winslow. Will we see the return of the hobbled Joshes before the preseason wraps up?