Where: Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota
When: 7:00pm CST (TV coverage on FSN)
Why: Because after one full day without any NBA action, we are all well overdue for an influx of professional hoops.
Welcome back! When we last left off, the Wolves were fumbling yet another fourth quarter lead against the Magic, including getting outscored 38-18 en route to a narrow 124-118 home victory. Blowing fourth quarter leads has been an unsettling trend for Minnesota as of late, with the Wolves being outscored 91-57 in the fourth in their last three games (1-2 during that stretch).
What exactly is causing these epic late game collapses? Maybe it’s players still adjusting to one another (doubtful), maybe it’s a lack of killer instinct (highly doubtful), or maybe it’s pure and utter fatigue from the amount of heavy minutes the starters face night in and night out (ding ding ding).
Continuing an uneasy pattern from last season, the Wolves currently have four players (Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, and Karl-Anthony Towns) ranked in the top 25 for minutes played per game. That type of heavy workload could be defensible if the Wolves lacked any competency on the bench; however, with players like Jamal Crawford, Nemanja Bjelica, and Tyus Jones more than holding their own, the onus is on Thibs to recognize that this team’s best strategy going forward is collectively doing less with more, rather than attempting to do more than less.
As for the Heat, they are coming off an impressive streak-stopping win against the red hot Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. The Heat, much like the rest of the league early on this season, have had their ups and downs, but have gotten strong production out of their franchise center Hassan Whiteside. Per our friends at Timberwolves PR, Whiteside currently ranks third in the NBA in rebounding (13.2 rpg) and eighth in field goal percentage (58.8%).
It should be another epic battle tonight as the immovable force (Whiteside) faces off against the unstoppable object (Towns). Tune in!
Expected Starting Lineups
PG - Jeff Teague
SG - Jimmy Butler
SF - Andrew Wiggins
PF - Taj Gibson
C - Karl-Anthony Towns
PG - Goran Dragic
SG - Dion Waiters
SF - Josh Richardson
PF - Justice Winslow
C - Hassan Whiteside
Timberwolves: Justin Patton (foot) is OUT.
Heat: Okaro White (foot) is OUT.
Let’s take a quick look at how the Wolves and Heat match up using the Four Factors. Reminder, the Four Factors are effective field goal percentage (eFG%), turnover percentage (TOV%), offensive rebounding percentage (ORB%), and free throw rate (FTR).
Factor / Wolves / Heat
eFG% / 51.2% / 51.4%
TOV% / 14.5 / 16.5
ORB% / 24.6% / 19.7%
FTR / .312 / .217
On paper, the Wolves should have another great matchup tonight against a feisty Miami Heat team that ranks 26th in both ORB% and FTR. The Heat have also shown a propensity to turn the ball over, currently sitting 28th in the NBA in TOV%. Expect the Wolves to spend much their Friday evening attacking the offensive glass against the smaller Heat lineup and camping out at the free throw line.
Prediction: Wolves 103, Heat 95