Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (16-19) at Miami Heat (17-17)
What: Two in A Row
Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
When: Sunday, December 30, 2018, 6PM EST
Why: To Get Over .500
Injuries: Goran Dragic (knee surgery), Dion Waiters (ankle), James Johnson (Illness)
After a blowout win against the Cavs, the Heat look to continue their recent dominance against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Obviously, the Wolves have struggled without Butler, but the returns from that trade, Robert Covington and Dario Saric, are nothing to shake a stick at.
The last time the Timberwolves played, they lost to the Hawks in overtime, 123-120, after a ROUGH missed free throw from 2014 first overall pick Andrew Wiggins. Ouch. They’re currently 16-19, good for the 13 seed in the West, which would be ninth place in the East. Yikes.
Wiggins' face when he missed this FT ? pic.twitter.com/1zBtRuD9PG
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 29, 2018
The Heat defeated the Cavs the last time they played, and I’d tell you all about it right here if there wasn’t a perfectly good recap by yours truly that you could read instead.
This is the first matchup of the season between these two teams, and last year’s season series was an even split, 1-1.
The matchup of the night, and a riveting one at that, is Karl-Anthony Towns vs. Hassan Whiteside. Two centers playing two completely different games, one as a shooter and passer and one as a post-up player and dominant defender. Towns doesn’t exactly have Whiteside’s defensive gifts, so it should be interesting to see how their games balance out. Look for Minnesota to take advantage of having Whiteside defending on the perimeter instead of in the paint.
Offensively, the Wolves allow opponents an average of 12.7 threes per game (second worst in the NBA). The Heat shoot a top-10 35.8% from behind the line. Put those two things together, and sparks fly. With Ellington back in the lineup, and Winslow feeling himself from deep lately, look for a lot of scoring from that perimeter.
Defensively, attack Towns. The guards need to drive the lane, Whiteside and Adebayo needs to back down, and everyone needs to try and rotate KAT onto ball handlers. His defense is better than it has been, but he still has a lot of work to do. Take advantage of that.
Final Score Prediction: 112-108 Heat. Probably a close game, but if it ends up close, I trust Miami to outperform Minnesota in the clutch.
The Wolves head to New Orleans on Monday night to play a back-to-back. That’s a tough travel schedule.
The Heat have New Year’s off, as they head to Cleveland to play the Cavs again on Wednesday.