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Game #52: Can the Wolves cool off the Heat?

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Miami is riding a 10-game win streak entering Target Center for an interconference battle Monday night.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat are suddenly one of the NBA’s best stories after reeling off 10 straight victories to move to 21-30.

Oddly enough, the Minnesota Timberwolves have some experience snapping win streaks this season. The Wolves ended Houston’s 10-game win streak back on Jan. 11 with a 14-point win. Eight days later, the Wolves ended the shorthanded L.A. Clippers’ seven-game win streak at Staples Center.

But what Miami brings a different animal into Target Center with its win streak. The Heat’s starting back court of Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters have combined to average 42.1 points per game on 52.6 percent shooting and 53.8 percent from three-point range over the team’s last 10 games.

Oh, and one magnificent game-winning buzzer-beater against the NBA’s best team.

Meanwhile, Hassan Whiteside has been a double-double machine in the middle, recording five such games during the win streak -- including a 30-point, 20-rebound effort on Saturday against Philadelphia.

The Wolves have retreated back to the 2016-17 norm after three straight bad losses to fall to 19-32 for the season. Minnesota’s last loss against a Memphis team that rested three of its starters was a truly embarrassing display of basketball. All Memphis had to do was apply some pressure and the Wolves shriveled up and panicked like the Falcons did against the Patriots last night. (Too soon?)

Minnesota is (somehow) still only three and a half games back of the eighth seed in the Western Conference, currently held by 22-28 Denver. Time is fading fast for the Wolves to take advantage of this golden opportunity presented by the entire bottom half of the West.

It’s time to start winning again.

Expected Starting Lineups

Timberwolves

PG - Ricky Rubio

SG - Andrew Wiggins

SF - Brandon Rush

PF - Gorgui Dieng

C - Karl-Anthony Towns

Injuries: Kris Dunn is questionable (hand). Zach LaVine (torn ACL) and Nikola Pekovic (achilles) are out.

Heat

PG - Goran Dragic

SG - Dion Waiters

SF - Rodney McGruder

PF - Luke Babbitt

C - Hassan Whiteside

Injuries: Rodney McGruder is questionable (illness). Chris Bosh (illness), Josh McRoberts (foot), Josh Richardson (foot) and Justice Winslow (shoulder) are all out.

Four Factors

As we always do in game previews, let’s take a 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% / 50.7 / 50.3

TOV% / 15.0 / 13.6

ORB% / 27.1 / 22.9

FTR / .281 / .251

Here’s to hoping a mildly warm Minnesota winter day is enough to cool off the scorching hot Miami Heat tonight at the Target Center.

Prediction: Wolves 104, Heat 98