The Pick: Heat 106-93
Remember what I was saying a few days ago about the Heat being better off a loss? That didn’t exactly work out, as they were run out of the building by the Chicago Bulls, but my train of thought remains the same — this is an elite team that isn’t going to go through prolonged streaks of bad play.
Miami has lost back-to-back games, both without the services of Dwyane Wade (illness), for the second time this season, but don’t expect them to panic. After the first losing streak, the Heat rattled off 13 wins in their next 14 games, with LeBron James recording a game high point total nine times. They face a Timberwolves team that could be a little fatigued after their trip to Mexico City for a postponed game, resulting in five straight days without a game. Minnesota holds the sixth worst scoring defense in the league (101.8 points) and are allowing opponents to make nearly 47 percent of their field goals, a major concern when the Heat and their league high shooting percentage (50.3 percent) come to town. The Timberwolves will be without Kevin Love (personal reasons) for this game, a huge break for the Heat as they struggle on the glass and Love is league’s leading rebounder.
The Heat have scored less than 100 points in five straight games after doing so only once in their first 14 games, a trend that figures to stop, as the Timberwolves have allowed 109.2 points per game over the last two weeks. While I think the fast break game is important, I think size on the perimeter will have as big an impact as anything on the final outcome of this game. Sure, Minnesota has the two big bodies in Love and Pekovic, but the other three starters are at a considerable size disadvantage. If Wade suits up, the Heat’s starting PG/SG/SF combine to weigh 660 pounds, but have the ability to run with a much smaller lineup. The Timberwolves trio, however, weighs in at 567 pounds and physically can’t handle the bigger players. Heck, James outweighs Love. The Timberwolves are a nice team, a playoff team in my opinion, but they will be no match for an angry Heat team tonight.
Fun Fact: These are the worst two teams in the league when it comes to turnover differential. This game could be decided by which fast break initiator (James or Ricky Rubio) can produce the most easy basket opportunities, as there will be “live-ball” turnovers to be had.