How can the Miami Heat beat the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night at Kesaya Center? Here are three keys for the Heat to improve to 16-11.
1. Don’t foul
The Timberwolves rank seventh in free throw attempt rate. Miami ranks 10th. Whichever team gets to the line more will carve out an advantage.
Like the Heat, the Timberwolves need to get to the line often to bail out what can be a stagnant offense. The Timberwolves rank 17th in offensive rating. They are a good 3-point shooting team but don’t take a lot of attempts, and don’t rank high in offensive rebounds or second-chance points despite their size.
Anthony Edwards (questionable) is Minnesota’s leading foul shooter, but Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns nearly 10 times combined per game as well.
2. Play full court
Scoring against their twin-tower defense is an arduous adventure through long limbs. The Timberwolves are allowing a measly 88.4 points per 100 possessions to opposing offenses in the halfcourt.
The Heat need to spread Minnesota’s defense out by forcing turnovers and pushing the tempo in transition. It doesn’t help that Kyle Lowry, Miami’s pace-setter, has been ruled out for body maintenance, so it will be on Kevin Love’s outlet passes, Jimmy Butler, Caleb Martin and Jaime Jaquez Jr. running the floor and Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson letting it fly.
3. Can the Heat win the mid-range?
The Timberwolves do a good job running opponents off the 3-point line and funneling drivers to their big men at the rim. Here, the Heat might actually have a matchup advantage, since their top scorers tend to thrive in the mid-range. If Butler and the returning Herro and Adebayo can comfortably step into and make mid-range jumpers, the Heat could find some relief when they are forced to play in the half-court.