Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Danny

Timberwolves at HEAT Official Game Thread and Preview

Recommended Posts

670_heattimberwolvespre_121218.jpg

(Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon)

The Miami HEAT and Minnesota Timberwolves square off tonight at AmericanAirlines Arena. The HEAT (15-6) enter off of a blowout victory Saturday night. The Timberwolves (12-10) lost last night in Orlando. Tip off is set for 7:30 PM on Sun sports; coverage starts at 7 PM.

1. As we write this, we still don’t know if Ricky Rubio will play tonight with the Wolves possibly holding him out of back-to-backs as he gets back into game shape. How does the game change if he plays?

*Update: Looks like Rubio will not play*

Couper Moorhead: Before Kevin Love came back, the Wolves were one of the league’s 10 worst offenses. When Love returned, the offense got a nice boost, but it was still middle of the pack. But in the 18 minutes Rubio played the other night, the Wolves were scoring with the efficiency of a Top-5 team. That probably won’t continue as Rubio’s sample size grows, but it’s a fine illustration of how important he is to making that team work. Rubio will eventually get back to providing defensive value, but few teams needed a shot of playmaking more than Minnesota, and Rubio offers that in just about any on-court situation imaginable.

Danny Martinez: For starters, we all have a lot more fun. Ricky Rubio is fascinating to watch. When he’s on the floor you have to be ready because he’ll make the most ridiculous pass you’ve ever seen. Then he’ll top it two minutes later.

For the Timberwolves, his presence makes a big difference. Rubio gets teammates easy buckets. Last season, only four players averaged more assists leading to baskets at the rim. None of those four had an assist to turnover ratio that came close to Rubio’s. He’s a supremely gifted playmaker. 2. The Wolves haven’t played Kevin Love much at center, and when they have results have been a mixed bag. Will Rick Adelman go small against Miami or will he stay big with Nikola Pekovic?

Couper: They won’t change their starting lineup, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Adelman run out the occasional Love-Kirilenko frontcourt, if only because Kirilenko is capable, relatively speaking, of defending LeBron James at the four. The bigger issue isn’t how Adelman will play his frontcourt – even with Derrick Williams getting minimal minutes – its his options in the backcourt. With or without Rubio, Adelman still has to give minutes to Barea, Luke Ridnour and Alexey Shved, none of whom are well disposed to defending Dwyane Wade. They have Malcolm Lee and Josh Howard for that, but the HEAT are adept at seeking out mismatches.

Danny: It depends on the context of the game. There are plenty of lineups that the HEAT employ that Adelman can counter with Love at the five. But I don’t see why Adelman would go out of his way to limit Pekovic’s minutes. Pekovic is a strong finisher and rebounder. His rolls to the rim cause defense to collapse and opens up space for shooters. Doses of Love at the five might make some sense, but I don’t think it’s a must for the Timberwolves to succeed.

3. Udonis Haslem’s shot hasn’t just been falling more, it’s simply looked better. Do the HEAT need him to get back to shooting 40+ percent from mid-range?

Couper: I wouldn’t go as far as to say the HEAT need it to happen immediately, but it would be nice. Haslem is finishing better at the rim this season, particularly as the roll man in pick-and-rolls; a good enough fit for what Miami needs, but the longer his shot looked suspect the more the league was going to catch up and give him a little more space on the perimeter. Right now Haslem isn’t affecting the floor spacing as much as you might think, but since he fills the Chris Bosh role of being the offensive safety-valve at the end of possessions, those open looks eventually need to fall at a decent clip just to keep the offense flowing. The last few games are as good a sign as any – Haslem also starting shooting better around the mid-point of last season.

Danny: At this point it might be more of a luxury with for HEAT. Haslem’s rebounding numbers are still great and he’s been able to convert shots at the rim again after a down season a year ago. His defense is still solid. Haslem will rarely be paired with a frontcourt partner who can’t stretch the defense out. Spacing the floor a little more for the offense would be great, but it’s hardly necessary.

4. Two years ago, LeBron James was criticized for not being able to back down Jose Juan Barea. If that situation comes up, will he have that problem again?

Couper: I’ve always likened that situation to LeBron attempting to back down a door stop. As much work as LeBron had put into his post game up to that point, he was still figuring out how to attack different defensive looks from the block. When he was lucky enough to get single coverage for a few moments, he was used to being able to back down his defender or take them off the dribble after facing up to the rim. Facing up a small guard is asking for your dribble to be tipped and as we mentioned before, back down someone with a much lower center of gravity than you is often an impossible task. LeBron’s footwork on the block is much better these days, so I doubt this will be an issue.

Danny: I doubt it. James’ work in the high post has improved greatly. With a smaller defender like Barea, he’s just as likely to back him down as he is to pass over him to an open shooter in the corner. Barea’s size can create leverage problems, but I don’t expect James to struggle with it too often.

5. Will the HEAT need a last-second lob to win the game?

Couper: As much as I enjoy watching Minnesota when Rubio is playing, they might not yet have the ball movement and shooting typically required to beat a Miami defense running on all cylinders. Love and Pekovic will have their share of offensive rebounds, enough to get fans once again clamoring for more size on the HEAT, but for things to be tied in the final minutes we’ll have to see the Wolves make those second and third passes after the initial offensive actions more consistently than we’ve seen.

Danny: I’m all for fun. Another lob to end the game would be a lot of fun. I doubt the HEAT find themselves in a similar position, though. And if they do, I doubt the Timberwolves let the lob beat them again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Infernoian Preview

Today's preview is done by Goodyou and JulesWinnfield. Great job!

1. As we write this, we still don’t know if Ricky Rubio will play tonight with the Wolves possibly holding him out of back-to-backs as he gets back into game shape. How does the game change if he plays?

Goodyou: As we saw against Dallas, the game changes dramatically when he's on the court. His playmaking allows him to take a lot of the pressure off guys like Kirilenko, Ridnour and Barea. His ability to get Pekovic and Williams involved on the offensive end becomes vital when Love is not on the floor, and his ball movement and spacing opens up a lot of opportunities for teammates. Rubio shines at creating plays in the half court, something Miami has struggled to defend, so it will be interesting (if he plays) to see how Miami reacts. To sum, Rubio brings a totally new dynamic of playmaking to a team that desperately needs it, and, without him, Minnesota will struggle to make plays without Roy, and if Love is not 100%.

JulesWinnfield: He does wonders for the Wolves' offense, delivering crisp passes and court vision matched by few in this league. Last season Rubio put up 12,12 and 6 against the Heat but we did force him into committing five turnovers in a game that was very close. When he's on the court the offense is more calm and efficient. His ability to involve everyone, especially the big men, gives them good looks in an otherwise struggling offense (looking at the FG numbers).

2. The Wolves haven’t played Kevin Love much at center, and when they have results have been a mixed bag. Will Rick Adelman go small against Miami or will he stay big with Nikola Pekovic?

Goodyou: Will he go small? Probably not, I mean, you pretty much answered your own question. The results have been lackluster when Love is holding down the fort at the center position. Without Roy, and (probably) Rubio, the only real advantage Minnesota holds over Miami is their size. The point of going small is to draw out the other team's bigs to create a mismatch. However, most of Miami's bigs are more comfortable guarding the ball on the mid-perimeter than in the key anyways. Their best chance to win is if they pound the ball inside with Love, Pekovic, and Kirilenko. They're logic is flawed if they think they can play small (without their two best playmakers) against a team who won a championship doing just that.

JulesWinnfield: I believe he'll go big, especially since Pekovic has grown into a pretty impressive center. The Timberwolves' only chance to win (or come close to winning) the game is by trying to dominate the paint. Playing small will go into the Heat's favor, removing any previous inside advantage (except for Love's inhuman rebounding). Minnesota posses currently the worst 3PT% in the league at 28.9%, which will probably give Miami some kind of relief. Defending the three has been a recurring problem this season.

3. Udonis Haslem’s shot hasn’t just been falling more, it’s simply looked better. Do the HEAT need him to get back to shooting 40+ percent from mid-range?

Goodyou: Do they need to? No. Will it help? Absolutely. Haslem has apparently found his jumper again (its always in the last place you look!), which, if it keeps up, will open up even more space for Bosh, Wade, and 'Bron. Although undervalued, Bosh and Haslem actually had a pretty decent two man game last year. If Haslem can keep knocking down those mid-range shots it gives Bosh a bit more space to face up in the post and drive to the basket without worry about an immediate rotation from the help big. The HEAT don't need him to shoot the ball well to be successful, however, every basketball player knows that when your shooting well every other part of your game improves that day. So, if his shot continues to fall you expect to see longer minutes for Haslem, with better production both offensively, and defensively.

JulesWinnfield: They don't necessarily need him too but it would definitively be appreciated. By getting back into a shooting flow, Haslem could open up the floor more and he would also attract defenders attention instead of being, occasionally, ignored outside 12-15 ft. Haslem had problems with his shot last year as well, but the Championship was still ours. This year, being harder to defend the title, an improved shot would definitively ease the Heat's and some fans minds.

4. Two years ago, LeBron James was criticized for not being able to back down Jose Juan Barea. If that situation comes up, will he have that problem again?

Goodyou: Um, no. No he won't.

JulesWinnfield: Not at all. But he doesn't need to prove anything to anyone, currently.

5. Will the HEAT need a last-second lob to win the game?

Goodyou: I hope so! Minnesota and Miami (obviously) are two of my favourite teams. So, as a fan, I would love to see the game go down to the wire. However, I don't think it will. Assuming Rubio won't be playing, and I'm unsure on Love's condition,I just don't think Minnesota has the pieces to keep up with the HEAT. But, hey, any team can win on any night (ask the Wiz) so who knows. Hope its a good one though!

JulesWinnfield: No, that would probably mean that they didn't play a particularly good game. Don't get me wrong, the Timberwolves are a decent team but with them coming off a game the night before in Orlando and the Heat having 2 days off before should give them absolutely no excuses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I specifiically bought tickets for tonights game to watch Ricky Rubio, my second favorite player (behind Rio obviously).

Stern better fine Adelman for this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I specifiically bought tickets for tonights game to watch Ricky Rubio, my second favorite player (behind Rio obviously).

Stern better fine Adelman for this

Why couldn't they just rest him against Orlando and have him play the Heat instead?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm so interested into seeing what HEAT squad will show up.In the event that we get the defensive dominant HEAT for four quarters,MIAMI should be able to once again rest it's starters in the fourth...TEAM HEAT since '88!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why couldn't they just rest him against Orlando and have him play the Heat instead?

Better to get him playing against lesser competition then having him play against the world champs I guess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why couldn't they just rest him against Orlando and have him play the Heat instead?

Orlando deserves a better show from opposing teams since they got sheet of a team

but really Orlando again

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our defense has been pretty good so far. The R Wolves are the leagues worst 3point shooting team but the way teams have been shooting vs us so far, I wouldn't be surprise if anything wired happens

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: David Dow
      With the pain of missing the playoffs by the slimmest of margins ingrained in their memory, the HEAT entered the 2017-18 season seeking redemption. Take a look back at how Miami achieved that goal here.
    • By Joe B.
      From all of us at the Miami HEAT, thank you for your unwavering support all season long. 
    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant
      The Miami HEAT fell to the Philadelphia 76ers 104-91 Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round. Kelly Olynyk led the way for the HEAT with 18 points. Philadelphia wins the series 4-1. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com
    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: David Dow
      The Miami HEAT face the Philadelphia 76ers Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round. Philadelphia leads the series 3-1. Tip-off is set for 8:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.
      1: What can we learn from Philadelphia’s late push to a Game 4 victory?
      Couper Moorhead: This won’t be a comforting statistic for anyone to read, but the 76ers were the first team to win a playoff game with 26 or more turnovers since 1986. For that to come up as the difference between a tied series and going on the road down 3-1 certainly can’t be easy for HEAT, but that’s the reality of the situation.
      Those turnovers, and 18 Miami steals, were by and large the reason the HEAT were playing with around a 10-point lead for much of the game. They were out attacking passing lanes, getting deflections (with over 20 for the third-straight game) and contesting every Philadelphia three possible (22.6 percent from distance). It was, in so many words, the HEAT playing a very HEAT game in every way you would expect, from the physicality to the discipline on display defensively, where they cut off drives and recovered to shooters. They were in control of both the game and the score.
      So how did the Sixers come back despite all of that? Six quick points from Ersan İlyasova, including a tough three, at the end of the third made it was four-point game headed into the final period. And then Philadelphia’s defense came alive, holding Miami to just 19 points in the period. And maybe that’s all there is to really learn. You can play some of your best basketball, but in a closely contested series against a talented opponent just one stretch of mistakes can cost you a handful on the scoreboard. Miami has done enough to beat a good number of teams, it just wasn’t quite enough to beat Philadelphia on Saturday.
      Joe Beguiristain: We just continued to see how tough the 76ers are. Even with some great defense by Miami for most of the contest (the HEAT totaled 18 steals, including seven from Josh Richardson) and a late offensive surge by Dwyane Wade (12 points on 5-of-10 shooting in the fourth), Philadelphia never lost its composure.
      Much like in Game 3, the 76ers upped their defensive pressure and came through with timely offensive rebounds to escape with the narrow victory despite committing a whopping 27 turnovers.
      While J.J. Redick and Ben Simmons made some big plays late, the HEAT did a great job against Joel Embiid and made his catches tough throughout. In fact, Hassan Whiteside held Embiid to just 1-of-8 shooting and an unreal five turnovers. Bam Adebayo, meanwhile, fared just as well and limited the Cameroonian to 0-of-3 shooting and three turnovers.
      It would be unreasonable to expect that once again, but it will take that kind of effort from both bigs if Miami wants to come out ahead this time around.
      2: Are there any adjustments Miami can make to try and force a Game 6?
      Couper: Erik Spoelstra will likely take a look at everything, from making lineup changes to changing defensive coverages to shifting offensive responsibilities. He’s not one to leave things on the table. But for everything he’ll likely look at, it’s very possible that there aren’t actually many major changes that need to be made. You go down 3-1 in a series and it’s easy to think drastic adjustments are in line, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, and we’ve said this here before, the best adjustment is just doing what you’ve been doing and doing it better. The HEAT have already been doing things very, very well, but if being even better than that is what it takes, then so be it. As Spoelstra has said a number of times in this series, that’s the challenge.
      Joe: At this point, I don’t think there is much to change or adjust for either team. Although Miami is down 3-1, this has been a highly competitive series between two teams that really get after it. Sure, Erik Spoelstra might make a few minor tweaks to his rotation based on player performance, but that’s been the case all year long. And as Coup mentioned in his first response, the HEAT have executed well enough to win most of these games, so it’s really just a matter of sustaining that high level of play for longer periods of time.
      At the end of the day, Miami just needs to keep up its defensive activity to make up for the size disparity and continue to attack in the pick-and-roll to create more openings on the other end.
      We’ll see how it all plays out.
      3: The HEAT have led at halftime of each game this series. What can they do better to hold leads in the second half?
      Couper: Something Dwyane Wade emphasized a number of times following Game 4 was that the Sixers make you pay for every single mistake you make. If you take your foot off the gas for just a couple of minutes, those minutes are going to cost you.
      Now, it’s probably not fair to say the HEAT have ever really taken their foot off the gas given how consistently hard they have been playing on the defensive end, but they have certainly had some offensive droughts that have allowed the Sixers to make up some ground. That’s not always to say they stop getting good shots or don’t run their offense, but even going cold on wide open shots for a minute or two is enough to turn a game – such as at the end of the third quarter on Saturday, which snowballed into an extended Philadelphia run – in a series where both teams are in overdrive. That’s also been a bit of a trend at times for Miami this season, where they’ll have one down six-minute stretch even in games where they’re otherwise topping 26-28 in a quarter, and trends like that can carry over to the postseason even if you can minimize them. 
      Spoelstra has said he’s been looking for a complete game from his team at times this season. He’s been getting complete effort, but the HEAT might just need complete offense to start a comeback. And they’ll have to do it against a team that’s proved to be capable of truly elite level defense.
      Joe: Although the HEAT have done a great job of building early leads, the 76ers have responded well time and time again down the stretch. Thanks to Philadelphia’s fusion of length and discipline, the team has made things quite difficult on Miami in the halfcourt more often than not. As such, it’ll behoove the HEAT to push the pace as much as possible and get some easy buckets in transition. But if the opportunity doesn’t present itself, Miami should still be able to find some success in the pick-and-roll with Dragić and Wade attacking and Whiteside and Adebayo diving to the rim with force. In addition to defending Embiid really well in Game 4, both HEAT centers threw down some ferocious alley-oops on the break, so perhaps they can continue that and also translate it to set offense on Tuesday.
      Highlights:
      Game 4 – 76ers at HEAT
      Game 3 – 76ers at HEAT
      Game Notes:
      Goran Dragić leads Miami with 19.5 points per game during the postseason. Ben Simmons leads Philadelphia in points (19.3), rebounds (10.8), assists (9.8) and steals (2.5) per contest in the playoffs. The HEAT are 8-2 in their last 10 elimination games. Josh Richardson (left shoulder sprain) is listed as questionable.
    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon
      The Miami HEAT fell to the Philadelphia 76ers 106-102 Saturday afternoon in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round. Dwyane Wade led the way for the HEAT with 25 points. Philadelphia now leads the series 3-1. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.