By: Dan Slaubaugh
Good morning. It's Thursday, and the Wolves are in Minneapolis to take on the Miami Heat tonight. Minnesota (2-1) is coming off a 106-101 loss to the Portland Trailblazers in which they let a 17 point lead slip away, only to get bit in the butt by the refs in the final minute. Nonetheless, they shouldn't have blown the lead. Miami (2-2) is coming off a 98-92 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Hassan Whiteside - who is both my most improved player of the year and defensive player of the year - lead the Heat with 23 points and 14 rebounds. He shot 11/12 from the field. That's ridiculous. According to STATS, Whiteside was the 3rd ever Heat center to shoot 11/12 from the field while blocking 4 shots in the game. He joins Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O'Neal. Anyways, here's what you need to know for tonight's game.
What: Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Miami Heat
Where: Target Center. Minneapolis, Minnesota.
When: 7:00pm CST
Where to watch: Fox Sports North Plus
Where to listen: 830 WCCO Radio
What to watch for:
Frontcourt battle: This is something I am worried about tonight. Miami's bigs are much, much bigger than the Wolves with Bosh and Whiteside eating up much of the paint. Both are stellar defenders. Whiteside averages 3.5 blocks per game while Bosh averages 1.5. Combined, both Bosh and Whiteside bring down just over 20 rebounds per game. If Minnesota wants to have a chance in this basketball game, their going to need to contain Miami's bigs from having monster games... I'm looking at you Karl-Anthony Towns. I just realized how excited I am for this KAT vs Whiteside matchup. That is going to be very, very fun to watch.
Wiggins shot: The form looks good. The shots look good. They just aren't falling. He's taken a considerable amount of mid-range jumpers off 1 on 1 situations this season, and he's had trouble getting them to fall at a consistent rate.
As you can see, Wiggins has struggled getting the ball in the hoop outside of the paint. Overall, he's shot 30% from the field in three games. I have a feeling that Andrew is going to break out of his mini shooting slump tonight. I'm calling it, he's going off for 25+ points, and 5 rebounds while shooting over 45% from the field.
2nd unit: I know I am just beating a dead horse, but we can't continue to give up leads when Lavine comes in at the 1. At some point Sam's gotta realize he is making a mistake by playing him there, right? right? I mean it's not a secret that he's been pretty terrible at point guard this year. It's just everyone but Sam that seems to realize it - or he has realized it and is hoping Lavine eventually figures it out.
Points: Kevin Martin (23.3)
Rebounds: Karl-Anthony Towns (10.3)
Assists: Ricky Rubio (10.3)
Steals: Ricky Rubio (1.7)
Blocks: Karl-Anthony Towns (2.7)
Points: Dwayne Wade (21.5)
Rebounds: Hassan Whiteside (11)
Assists: Goran Dragic (5)
Steals: Mario Chalmers (1.5)
Blocks: Hassan Whiteside (3.5)
PG: Ricky Rubio
SG: Andrew Wiggins
SF: Tayshaun Prince
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Karl-Anthony Towns
PG: Goran Dragic
SG: Dwayne Wade
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Chris Bosh
C: Hassan Whiteside
OUT: Nikola Pekovic (still recovering from surgery on right achilles)
Probable: Dwayne Wade (migraine)
Questionable: Amare Stoudemire (knee)
Questionable: Gerald Green (illness)
Alright that's it. The Wolves only have 4 games this season on Thursday nights, so enjoy this one...if you like Thursdays. I have high expectations for this Heat team. In fact, in our Regular Season Preview-Prediction Roundtable, I projected them to make the Conference Finals, and lose to the Cavs. In other words, I believe this team can be really good and is probably being overlooked right now. The Wolves are going to have to bring their A game tonight in order to come out with a dub.
My prediction: Heat defeat Wolves 105-98.
Thanks for reading. Have a great day!