Where: Miami, FL
See It: FSN
Hear It: WCCO AM 830
Alright, so things didn’t go as planned last night in Orlando. Things started out promising, but slowly came undone, and the Wolves watched their four game winning streak disappear at the hands of…Glen Davis? Er, at the hands of Glen Davis. Whoops, wrong punctuation. However, the Wolves look to get back on track against the Miami Heat! Dang it, there goes my punctuation again.
Where we stand now, the defending champs are second in the East and have won three of their last four, with their lone defeat being a two point loss to the Warriors. And as I mentioned above, the Timberwolves four out of five, yada, yada, yada…
The LeBron Heat have been trouble for the Wolves, up until the formation of the Love-Rubio tandem. In their lone meeting at the Target Center last season, the Timberwolves lost a nail-biter in regulation, 103-101. If the Wolves are able to win the key statistical battles they did last night, and hit a few more shots, they could prevail here.
The Heat’s defense may not be near where it was last and they’ve struggled on the glass, too, but that doesn’t matter when they shoot the ball as well as they do. Obviously, LeBron is athletic Freakzilla and has a grab bag of skills from many of the various greats in NBA history, but it’s really un-freaking-fair when he’s able to shoot .541 from the floor and .424 from deep, too. In short, he’ll beat you inside and he’ll beat you outside, which is something that he hasn’t been able to do in the past, and certainly not to this extent.
It’s not just LeBron, though. Check this out:
– Ray Allen: .494/.474
– James Jones: .455/.455
– Rashard Lewis: .486/.474
– Shane Battier: .433/.443
– Mike Miller: .426/.391
This list doesn’t even include Dwyane Wade’s .508% from the floor, either. Look at this; their “worst” shooting shooter is shooting just under .400! Guess how many .400% three point shooters the Timberwolves currently have? Zero. Their best shooter from deep has been Luke Ridnour with a .365% mark. When you look at it, it’s an incredible contrast.
Some of this may be attributable to LeBron’s 32.9% assist percentage, which combined with his other numbers/abilities more than justifies a 29.8% Usage Rate, but also the fact that Wade and Chalmers each have an assist percentage in the twenties, too. When you combine good ball movement, with good shooters, the Heat have just so many shooters you have to respect. When you combine all of this, it has increased the Heat’s offensive efficiency from a year ago, and off-set some of their defensive shortcomings thus far.
Fortunately for the Timberwolves, they are the NBA’s sixth-best defensive bunch. However, the Heat are the second-best team in the league protecting the ball, so they’ll have to look to exploit them on the boards to control the game and get second chance points.
This is going to be a fun one.
Projected Starting Fives:
Mario Chalmers — PG — Luke Ridnour
Dwyane Wade — SG — Alexey Shved
LeBron James — SF — Andrei Kirilenko
Udonis Haslem — PF — Kevin Love
Chris Bosh — C — Nikola Pekovic