No Rubio, No Problem
Their last time out, Miami avenged an embarrassing loss earlier in the season with a dominant performance - a feat that would have been much more impressive were their opponents, the Washington Wizards, not the worst team in the NBA. Tonight, the Heat face the Timberwolves, a team that has been playing quite well despite the absence of one of their star players from last season, Ricky Rubio. Rubio is not expected to play tonight, so we will see the same Minnesota squad that has been playing for most of the season. The Timberwolves are currently 10th in our nERD power rankings, despite missing the playoffs last year.
Crashing the Boards
The Heat are a mediocre rebounding team, particularly on the offensive glass. They are the 29th ranked team in offensive rebounding percentage, pulling in only 21.1% of available rebounds on this end of the floor. They are decent at defensive rebounding, with a 10th ranked 74.1% defensive rebounding percentage.
Thanks largely to the efforts of Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic, the Timberwolves have rebounded very well this year - third in ORB% and fourth in DRB%. The battle for second chances could be a big disadvantage for Miami, and will be key if the Timberwolves want to pull out this upset.
Miami is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league. They make a second ranked 40.6% of their shots from beyond the arc. All year, however, they’ve allowed opponents to make this shot almost as well as they do, as opponents shoot 36.1% from three.
In Minnesota, the tale has been just the opposite.They are the worst team in the league at hitting threes, shooting 29.6%, but solid at defending it, allowing an opponent three-point shooting percentage of 34.5. If Miami’s pitiful perimeter defense allows Minnesota to get hot from outside, it would allow Minnesota’s offense to function better than it has all season, but if the Timberwolves are unable to slow down Miami’s shooters, they might be playing catch up in this department all night.