Tonight at 8PM EST, the Heat will tip off against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This will be the first of two contests this season between the two clubs, with the rematch set for February 17th at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
Miami is riding a 10-game winning streak. They’ve defeated the Houston Rockets, the Dallas Mavericks, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Golden State Warrior, the Brooklyn Nets (twice), the Chicago Bulls, the Detroit Pistons, the Atlanta Hawks, and the Philadelphia 76ers in the streak, by an average of nearly 11 points per game. Tonight’s contest is the first of a four-game road trip. They’ll go on to play the Bucks on Wednesday, the Nets on Friday, and the 76ers on Saturday night before returning home.
The Timberwolves have lost their last three contests, to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Detroit Pistons, and the Memphis Grizzlies, by an average margin of almost 15 points, and are playing in the second game of a six-game homestand. They’ll stay in the Twin Cities to host the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, the Bulls on Sunday, and the Cavs next Tuesday.
The last time Miami played the Timberwolves was on November 17th, 2015. Andrew Wiggins led the Wolves with 24 points, Zach LaVine scored 17 off the bench, and Shabazz Muhammad also came off the bench for 16. Karl-Anthony Towns scored 14 points with 14 rebounds. Hassan Whiteside led Miami with 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 blocked shots, while Luol Deng scored 20 with six boards and Goran Dragic had 16 with nine assists as Minnesota handed Miami a 103-91 loss.
Miami’s last game was a 125-102 victory against the 76ers on Saturday night. Hassan Whiteside scored 30 points with 20 rebounds and three blocks to lead the Heat. Dion Waiters scored 21 points, making five-of-six shots from outside along with seven assists, Goran Dragic scored 16 with eight assists and four rebounds, and Tyler Johnson scored 16 with six assists and six boards. Ersan Ilyasova led a toothless Sixers attack with 21 points on seven-of-15 shooting.
It took us a while, with all the moving parts, to really understand what our identity is and what’s important for us to be able to win basketball games. We’re getting better with it. - Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, understated as always
Minnesota dropped a 107-99 decision to the Memphis Grizzlies in their last game, also on Saturday. Karl-Anthony Towns led the Wolves with 27 points and 16 rebounds, Andrew Wiggins scored 23 with five assists, and Ricky Rubio scored 14 with six helpers in the loss. JaMychal Green led the Grizz with 29 points on eight-of-11 shooting, backed up by 20 points and eight helpers from Mike Conley.
We got too comfortable with the lead. We felt like we were just cruising to the victory line and we stumbled along the way. - Towns
GameTime: 8PM EST
Line: According to Numberfire.com, Miami has a 48.9% chance of victory, by a projected 101-100 score.
All-Time Heat-to-Head: Miami is 30-22 in direct conflict with the Wolves, their .577 winning percentage their ninth best against any opponent.
Heat: 21-30, .412, two games behind the current eighth place Detroit Pistons. Fourth in the Southeast Division, 12th in the Eastern Conference, 21st in the NBA. Last Five: W-W-W-W-W.
Timberwolves: 19-32, .373, 3.5 games behind the current eighth-place Denver Nuggets. Fifth in the Northwest Division, 13th in the Western Conference, 26th in the NBA. Last Five: L-W-L-L-L.
Most Likely Starting Lineups
PG - Goran Dragic
SG - Rodney McGruder (GTD)
SF - Dion Waiters
PF - Luke Babbitt
C - Hassan Whiteside
PG - Ricky Rubio
SG - Brandon Rush
SF - Andrew Wiggins
PF - Gorgui Dieng
C - Karl-Anthony Towns