Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Heat
Wolves (20-36) vs. Heat (43-14) at 7:00 PM, Target Center
Where to Watch: My29, NBATV
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
View Timberwolves Game Notes
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After defeating the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, the Heat will swing over to Minnesota to challenge your hometown Timberwolves. It was Miami’s 14th straight win dating back to a Feb. 1 loss to the Pacers thanks in large part to a continued MVP effort from LeBron James. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on My29, NBATV and 830 WCCO-AM.
The defending champions are the top seed in the Eastern Conference and just logged a big win over the Knicks yesterday. Miami is on a serious roll and showing no signs of slowing down. The Heat boast the league’s best shooting percentage (.496) and it has three players in the league’s top 20 shooters by percentage with James (7th, .564), Chris Bosh (14th, .543) and Dwyane Wade (20th, .517). With the NBA’s best rate and your three stars shooting like that, it’s easy to see why they are experiencing success (again).
James is fourth on the league’s chart of top scorers with 27.1 PPG; Wade follows him with 21.5 PPG, and Bosh adds 16.9 and 7.1 RPG. Beyond the “Big Three,” 37-year-old Ray Allen and 34-year-old Shane Battier are leading the team in 3-point percentage, both averaging nearly two makes per game. Mario Chalmers continue to start at point, and key reserve Udonis Haslem is in his tenth season as a Heat player.
Last Time Out: Dec. 18, 2012
The Wolves outrebounded Miami by 28 boards, but the Heat shot 52 percent from outside on their way to a 103-92 home win.
"I don't know how many times I've seen that, where you get doubled up on the rebounding and still escape with the win," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "That's a tough team. They're unique. Relentless on the glass. There's not many teams like them."
Dwyane Wade scored 24 points to lead Miami in scoring, and LeBron James added a double-double with 22 points and 11 assists. James topped the 20-point mark for the 27th straight regular-season game and 43rd straight.
Minnesota started the game with an 18-3 rebounding advantage after the first quarter—an astounding mark. Andrei Kirilenko had 22 points for the Wolves, and Kevin Love grabbed 18 boards while Nikola Pekovic snagged 12 of his own.
Key Matchup: LeBron James and Derrick Williams
James is averaging .564 from the field, tops in his career. That number is good for a high-level big man that spends his time in the post, but it’s even more impressive when you consider that James is taking plenty of shots from outside. He’s converting a career-high .413 from outside, finally establishing himself as a serious threat shooting the ball. The defensive approach to James used to be forcing him to shoot contested jumpers, since he is such a bully in the paint. But “The King” is hitting from all areas on the court and has now become nearly impossible to limit. He has won all four Eastern Conference Player of the Month awards this year.
The Wolves have lost 10 of their last 12, including five straight since a solid win over Philly. But while missing top producer Kevin Love, a bright spot has been the emergence of second-year forward Derrick Williams. He’s putting up 10.8 PPG, but during the last four games he has averaged 20.5 per game. He’s also been more aggressive rebounding and seems to be finishing on more of his dunk attempts. Lots of expectations come with being drafted second overall, is this a milestone in Williams’ development? And with Kirilenko doubtful again tonight, there is a chance the 6-foot-9, 240-pound Williams could match up against James during this game on the defensive end.
Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law
Wolves forward Andrei Kirilenko has missed the past two games with a left calf strain and is listed as doubtful for tonight’s contest. If he’s unable to play, it is a big loss for Minnesota as Kirilenko was a huge factor in the teams’ last matchup in December—the Wolves had a tough time with both James and Wade, and whichever player Kirilenko defended was slowed down considerably. Center Nikola Pekovic is questionable with an abdominal strain as well. The Heat do not have any players listed on the injury report.
|Tonight's Probable Starters|
|PG||Ricky Rubio||Mario Chalmers|
|SG||Luke Ridnour||Dwyane Wade|
|SF||Mickael Gelabale||LeBron James|
|PF||Derrick Williams||Udonis Haslem|
|C||Greg Stiemsma||Chris Bosh|