- Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (16-17) at Miami Heat (16-17)
- When: 6:40 PM CT
- Local TV: Bally Sports North (Michael Grady, Jim Petersen and Katie Storm)
- Radio: 830 WCCO-AM
- Line: Wolves +1 | Total: 221 (courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
back to work.— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) December 26, 2022
Wolves at Heat
6:30pm CT, FTX Arena
Preview » https://t.co/APCQwtVYM1 pic.twitter.com/9UgxlZIwqg
What To Watch For
A pair of 16-17 teams who are on two-game skids will meet on South Beach tonight as a depleted Miami Heat squad will host the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Miami will be without its top three centers — Bam Adebayo, Dewayne Dedmon and Omer Yurtseven — as well as General Soreness himself, Jimmy Butler, who now have missed both matchups this season against his former team.
Let’s dive into it.
Time For Gobzilla Mode
If there was ever a time for Rudy Gobert to take it upon himself to completely dominate an opponent and make sure they have no chance of coming away victorious, it would be tonight. He will likely match up with two-way player and rookie center Orlando Robinson, who has just 92 minute of NBA experience across six career appearances.
Should the seven-foot Robinson get into foul trouble, Miami Head Coach Erik Spoelstra will likely have to turn to 6-foot-10, 205-pound rookie forward Nikola Jović while Gobert is on the floor. If that doesn’t work, or Naz Reid is in the game, 6-foot-6 Haywood Highsmith or 6-foot-6 Caleb Martin may be tasked with playing small-ball 5.
Simply put, Gobert needs to control both the paint and the backboard on both ends of the floor. It should be an easy task for him considering that whomever guards him will not be able to find success getting physical with him, given Miami’s options.
Gobert should rather easily put together a 15/15 performance, as long as garbage time doesn’t sideline him for the entire fourth quarter.
Gobzilla is back in action tonight in the magic city https://t.co/NU0CAGtUfD pic.twitter.com/LeS6rjhqsF— jakes graphs (@jakesgraphs) December 26, 2022
Running Shooters Off the Line
Short-handed teams often try to make up for their talent deficiencies from the 3-point line. Miami is shooting only 34.4% from 3 this season (21st in the NBA) but finished first last season (37.9%) and second in 2019-20 (also 37.9%) with very similar personnel and playstyle.
Spoelstra’s team is eighth in 3-point attempts (36.2 per game) and facing a Wolves group that allows their opponents to shoot 37.1% from the 3-point line (26th in NBA) on 38.4 attempts per game (most in NBA). Head Coach Chris Finch’s defense also allows the most makes from downtown (14.2).
One thing the Heat are not missing tonight is 3-point shooting. Tyler Herro (40.8%), Martin (39.6%), Highsmith (36.2%) and Kyle Lowry (35.9%) are all playing tonight, as are the team’s struggling 3-point specialists Max Strus (32.8%) and Duncan Robinson (32.2%). Gabe Vincent, who shot 36.8% last season on 4.8 triggers per game, is also active tonight, but is shooting a measly 29.7% so far this year.
The better that the Timberwolves can run shooters off the line, the higher chance of winning they have tonight. Minnesota holds opponents to 37.0% shooting in the mid-range (second in the NBA), 42.4% on non-restricted area paint shots (13th), and 63.9% (seventh) in the restricted area.
If Miami’s perimeter players can consistently get into the paint and score against Gobert and Reid, then they’ll earn a hard-fought win. But Minnesota’s defense has to dictate what Miami does offensively, and the winning formula is forcing as many 2-point shots as possible.
Another Brinks Truck Game For Naz Reid
Earlier today, our Gabe Schneider wrote about how Reid’s play might be both pricing Minnesota out of re-signing him and force him to seek an earned starting role on another team in free agency this summer. Tonight will be another excellent showcase for him.
Expect Miami to switch when Reid is in the game, especially considering the Heat’s switchable, small-ball personnel available to them for this one. Reid has feasted this season against switches, whether it be faking dribble hand-offs and driving past slower bigs, bodying smalls in the post, or firing 3s before defenders can close out on him off skip passes.
He should be able to control the glass as well, where he can improve upon his 17.9% defensive rebounding rate (52nd percentile, per Cleaning the Glass) and 5.7 offensive rebounding rate (27th percentile). Reid should be set up nicely for another 20/10 game.
- Kyle Anderson (illness)
- Jordan McLaughlin (left calf strain)
- Taurean Prince (right shoulder sublaxation)
- Karl-Anthony Towns (right calf strain)
- Udonis Haslem (right achilles tendinosis)
- Bam Adebayo (non-COVID illness)
- Jimmy Butler (right ankle sprain)
- Dewayne Dedmon (left foot plantar fasciitis)
- Omer Yurtseven (left ankle surgery)