Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Sports Gaming Monitor

NBA Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (19-5) at Miami Heat (15-11)

Love was referring to Miami’s championship quest but he could have also been referring to Miami’s game Monday night against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves, who have the best record in the Western Conference at 19-5.

That’s who the Heat will be chasing on Monday.

The Timberwolves, 18-3 since a sluggish start, have not lost consecutive games all season, and they are coming off a 127-109 win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored a season-high 40 points on Saturday, making 15-of-25 shots from the floor, including 2-of-3 on 3-pointers. In addition, Towns also made 8-of-8 free throws, grabbed 12 rebounds, dished four assists, produced three steals and blocked two shots in 35 quality minutes.

But teammate Anthony Edwards, who scored 37 points Saturday, said he was not blown away by Towns’ latest performance.

After Saturday’s game, Pacers coach Rick Carlisle spoke about the Timberwolves in reverential tones.

Monday’s game will be interesting for a variety of reasons, including a matchup between veteran point guards: Minnesota’s Mike Conley Jr., 36; and Miami’s Kyle Lowry, 37. They are each in their 16th NBA season.

Conley leads Minnesota in assists (6.2). Lowry is third on the Heat in assists (4.2).

Besides Conley, Edwards and Towns, Minnesota’s other starters are defensive-minded Rudy Gobert and Jaden McDaniels. In fact, Gobert is a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. This season, he ranks fourth in the league in rebounds (12.0) and fifth in blocks (2.4).

Minnesota’s bench is led by Naz Reid, who backs up Towns and Gobert and produced 17 points on Saturday; and Kyle Anderson, a point forward who had 10 assists on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Heat star Jimmy Butler – who played for Minnesota from 2017 to 2019 – is coming off a 28-point performance on Saturday night in Miami’s 118-116 win over the Chicago Bulls.

Butler also hit the game-winning shot on Saturday, a step-back jumper from about 18 feet.

Even so, it hasn’t been an easy start to the season for the Heat, who are without two injured starters, Tyler Herro (ankle) and Bam Adebayo (hip). Both players are expected to return soon, perhaps even on Monday.

While the Heat wait for Herro and Adebayo, Love has become more important. He scored 22 points on Saturday, making 6-of-10 on 3-pointers.

Love, who also played for the Timberwolves, signed with Miami in February. Since then, he has made adjustments.

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