Who: Miami Heat (38-39) at Minnesota Timberwolves
What: Final Stretch
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
When: Friday, April 5, 2019, 8PM EST
Why: To Conquer Orlando
Injuries: O-Josh Richardson (Groin), Q-Derrick Jones Jr. (Knee)
Josh Richardson went down in the Heat’s last game against the Celtics, and that means Miami is in trouble. He’ll be out for at least two weeks, but that may not matter if the Heat can’t win the next four games on their schedule.
The Timberwolves slipped by the Mavericks on Wednesday, 110-108. This season has largely been a loss for them, after a failed experiment with Tom Thibodeau and Jimmy Butler cost them the likes of prospects like Lauri Markannen and Kris Dunn. They’re looking to finish the year around tenth place.
The Heat fell to the Celtics for the second straight outing, 112-102. Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward combined for 48, and Justise Winslow didn’t look too sharp coming off of an injury. They just couldn’t get it done, and now they’re sitting in ninth place.
This is the second meeting between these two teams, with Minnesota taking the first victory in December, when both teams had something to play for.
Like I just said, the Timberwolves don’t have much to play for. The Heat are scrounging for a playoff spot, and the Wolves are eliminated and potentially looking to up their draft stock. But, that doesn’t mean KAT won’t try to win himself.
He’s been on a tear post all-star break, averaging 28.5 points on 53% from the field, along with 13.8 rebounds. Towns is very good. He’ll be the guy to watch tonight from Minnesota, especially being defended by guys with defensive prowess, like Bam Adebayo and Hassan Whiteside.
The T-Wolves are middling in a lot of statistical categories, but their two-point attempts and percentage jump out as top-10s. They’ve got talented guys like KAT that can score down low, so Miami should try and clog the paint and make them shoot the long ball, something they’re bottom-10 in this season.
Conversely, they allow the second-most three pointers per game in the league, so Miami needs to get it going from behind the line. Dragic has had the magic touch lately, as has Dion Waiters, so the two of them need to combine for a high volume of threes, and exploit a Timberwolves defense that doesn’t have much to lose.
Final Score Prediction: 115-107 Heat
The Timberwolves host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.
The Heat have three games left after tonight, against the Raptors, Sixers, and Nets.
The Heat are currently on the outside looking in, with a much harder schedule than the Magic. The Nets also have a very difficult schedule, if it’s worth anything. If they lose out (including a loss to the Heat), they would miss the playoffs and the Heat would sneak in. The Nets play the Bucks, Pacers, and Heat.
The Magic have the Hawks, Celtics, and Hornets to end the year, so maybe it’s time to stop looking at Orlando as the team to beat, and shift it over towards Brooklyn.