Wolves vs. Heat Gameday
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Wolves vs. Heat 7 PM - Target Center
WHERE TO WATCH: FSNORTH
WHERE TO LISTEN: KFAN 1130
Miami's recent playoff push has landed the South Beach squad at the No. 5 spot in the latest postseason standings. A cast of 2010 free agents, a young coach, and one electrifying superstar have rattled off seven straight victories along with winning eight of their last 10 games. Only allowing 94.1 points per game, the Heat are one of the best defensive teams in the Eastern Conference, which has propelled an offensively-challenged roster to a 42-34 overall record. Last night, Miami seized control of the Pacers in overtime and captured a 105-96 victory behind a brilliant effort from Dwyane Wade. The Heat concludes the three-game road trip tonight as one of their next six games against teams below the .500 mark.
The Wolves earned their last road win in Miami on February 23 with a strong 91-88 performance. Holding the Heat to just 15 points in the first quarter and 17 in the third period lifted Minnesota to an impressive victory.
Miami will point to the absence of Wade as a major reason for the loss to the Wolves in late February. The 2010 All-Star MVP was forced to miss the contest with a strained left calf and the Heat's backcourt struggled to produce points. Shooting guard Daequan Cook replaced Wade in the starting lineup, only scoring eight points on 4-for-13 shooting from the floor. Fast forward to Friday night where Wade erupted for 43 points, nine rebounds, and six assists to help Miami earn the road victory. Wade is a top candidate for the MVP trophy this season and is the ultimate playmaker. His combination of pure strength along with incredible ball handling skills places a tremendous amount of pressure on the opposition. An example of his explosive nature was seen in a jaw dropping highlight last night as he split a Pacers double team en route to finishing high above the rim for a devastating dunk. He is one of the players in the league that will get his numbers regardless of the defensive gameplan. The goal for Minnesota’s backcourt and shooting guard Corey Brewer is to limit Wade’s impact on the game. Offensively, Brewer joined five other Wolves to reach double figures on Wednesday night. At the point guard spot, Jonny Flynn scored 18 and dished out eight assists in helping Minnesota snap a 16-game losing skid against the Kings. Flynn should own an advantage against Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers; two players that have spent time in the starting lineup next to Wade.
Despite returning to practice on Thursday, Jermaine O’Neal remained in dress clothes for last night’s game in Indiana. After the workout left his knee swollen and sore, O’Neal will most likely miss his fourth consecutive game tonight. Head coach Erik Spolestra has decided to use a small lineup without the services of his starting center. Quentin Richardson moves down to the small forward position while Michael Beasley suits up at the power forward spot and Joel Anthony starts at center. Beasley is the X-Factor in Miami’s frontcourt due to his big game potential. Two games ago, Beasley was terrific, scoring 28 points on 11-for-22 shooting from the floor. He only shot 35 percent in last night’s game and committed seven turnovers. The examination of these two games is a microcosm his season, glimpses of an eventual superstar but several disappointing outings. For the Wolves, the emergence of Darko Milicic has changed the look of their frontline. Milicic posted a double-dip on Wednesday night and blocked four shots. His strong left-handed hook shot in the lane effectively takes away the double teams that collapse on Al Jefferson.
What To Look For:
Minnesota needs to find a way to score buckets inside the paint against a stifling and physical Miami defense. If the Wolves pound the glass and keep the Heat off the free throw line, they will have a good chance to defeat a tired squad on a back-to-back after playing an overtime game last night. The Heat will attempt to use their quickness in the frontcourt to damage Jefferson, Milicic, and Love.
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