The Miami Heat have not seemed like themselves recently having lost two straight against sub .500 teams in the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls. These teams beat the Heat with size and rebounding, and the Heat’s next opponent, the Minnesota Timberwolves, has both those of things. The Timberwolves are also at an advantage in that they will have had plenty of rest after their midweek game against the San Antonio Spurs was cancelled. The Heat will have had decent rest, too, but seemed tired and disinterested in their loss to the Bulls. Still, the Heat are the best team in the league so look for them to play hard to avoid a three game losing streak.
The Pistons and Bulls’ front courts were able to outscore and outrebound the Heat, and the Timberwolves’ front court should be able to do the same. The Heat will be without Chris Andersen, who did not travel with the team due to personal issues, and will have to rely on Joel Anthony and Chris Bosh to play center. The Wolves have the clear rebounding advantage there. Kevin Love may not be a physical, defensive player at the power forward spot, but he is the best offensive power forward in the league and leads the league in rebounds, so the advantage there goes to the Wolves again.
Still, the Heat have the game’s best player, and LeBron James can tip nearly any matchup in his team’s favor. The teams that have played well against the Heat have long perimeter defenders who can somewhat slow down James. The Wolves will likely use Corey Brewer and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute as their LeBron stoppers. Both players have the necessary length to pester James, but he has such a strength advantage that he’ll still find plenty of ways to score.
Keys to the game for the Timberwolves are to knock down three-pointers, defend Miami’s three-pointers well, and clean the glass. I predict a high scoring game from both teams and a dominant performance from James. If Love and Pekovic are dominant in their own right, the Wolves will keep it close and can pull off a needed big win.