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Heat at Timberwolves Game Thread

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The Wolves are back home to face the struggling Miami Heat tonight as Ricky Rubio returns to the court at Target Center for the first time in three months.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Heat at Wolves
7:00 pm CST
FS North

The struggling Miami Heat come to town tonight off a loss to the Detroit Pistons yesterday. They are currently 21-27 on the season and are without Dwyane Wade, who is out with a hamstring injury, to say nothing of Josh McBob McRoberts who is out for the season.

The big story for the Heat has been the emergence of Hassan Whiteside, a mid-season pickup who has dominated since being inserted into the rotation. In 400 minutes this season, he's posting 18/15 and 5 blocks per 36, is sporting a .230 WS/48, and has more or less been terrorizing opponents in the paint over the last few weeks. It's a remarkable story given that prior to this season, Whiteside has not been able to stick in the league since being drafted in the 2nd round in 2010 by the Sacramento Kings. In fact, he had not appeared in the NBA since the 2011-12 season until Miami picked him up November.

The Wolves will have to find a way to score against Whiteside in the paint and try to get him in some foul trouble early. Having Ricky Rubio back and running pick and rolls with Nikola Pekovic will hopefully be effective.

The Wolves will also have to force some turnovers, as the Heat are prone to giving the ball away. This will be an interesting battle of pace, since the Heat are the slowest team in the league while the Wolves tend to play a high possession game.

Chris Bosh will also be an interesting match up for the Wolves, as it will either be Thad Young, who isn't big enough to deal with Bosh inside, or Gorgui Dieng, who probably lacks the chops to handle him on the perimeter, trying to contain the Heat's leading (available) scorer.

I also wonder whether the crowd will be any bigger or livelier than it has been for most of the season now that Rubio is back; he's certainly someone to go out and watch, but Target Center has been so moribund this year and it's unclear whether his return will make any real difference.

Finally, Andrew Wiggins has a tough assignment on both ends of the floor with Luol Deng, who should have a real strength advantage on the rookie. Coming off a rough night in Dallas, it's worth watching how he responds.

Expected Lineups

Heat

Shabazz Napier
Mario Chalmers
Luol Deng
Chris Bosh
Hassan Whiteside

Wolves

Ricky Rubio
Kevin Martin
Andrew Wiggins
Thaddeus Young
Gorgui Dieng

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