Wolves at Heat
6:30 pm CST
The Wolves are in Miami to take on the Heat in the 2nd and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Heat are off to an excellent 6-3 start, including a win over the Wolves at Target Center earlier in the year. That was, perhaps, the worst performance of the year (Rubio available edition) for the Wolves, and they will be looking to play better tonight.
The Heat are sporting the 2nd best defensive rating in the league, in large part thanks to Hassan Whiteside picking up where he left off last season, protecting the rim against all comers and dominating the defensive glass. They also have a seecond quality defensive big man (Chris Bosh), a great defensive wing, and an understudy (Luol Deng and Justise Winslow). As a result, they hold opponents to the lowest efg% in the league, .447.
They showed off that defensive prowess against the Wolves in Minneapolis, holding them to 84 points and a .376 efg%, with Whiteside taking rookie Karl Anthony-Towns to school, holding him to 6 points on 3-13 shooting in his worst effort as a pro. Towns will certainly be looking to improve on that performance. In fact, other than a strong bench stretch from Shabazz Muhammad (14 points), nobody played well offensively for the Wolves against the Heat, which appears to be what the Heat are doing to teams this year.
Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade had a throwback night, putting in 25 on 19 shots and looking spry. He got plenty of help, as all of the Heat starters were in double figures. The Heat have four players averaging double figures, three between 14.6 and 19 points a game (Whiteside, Wade, and Bosh).
They expect to get bench scorer Gerald Green back for this game, as well as Wade who missed the last game for personal reasons. The Heat recently traded back up point guard Mario Chalmers and forward James Ennis to Memphis for Beno Udrih and Jarnell Stokes. They are desperately trying to unload Stokes, apparently, as he has not appeared yet and might not tonight. Udrih, meanwhile, made his debut in the Heat's last game.
For the Wolves, Ricky Rubio is once again listed as questionable, though he went through practice yesterday and is with the team. Wolfson tweeted earlier that it sounded like a good chance he'll play, but I'll believe it when I see it.
Either way, the Wolves will have to find a way to break down the Heat's strong D and get some good shots. That's much easier said than done.
LATE NEWS: Ricky will go. How much is unclear, but he's going to play. Our long national nightmare is over. At least for now.
Our blogging buddies are over at Hot Hot Hoops. Be Excellent.
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Enjoy, chat, go.