In a matchup of experience vs. potential, the more experienced Miami Heat may have the advantage for the time being as they pay a visit to the Minnesota Timberwolves Thursday.
It is a matchup of young vs. old in the Twin Cities Thursday night, and for the time being at least we give the edge to the more experienced Miami Heat (2-2, 2-2 ATS) as they pay a visit to a team that is oozing with potential in the youthful Minnesota Timberwolves (2-1, 2-1 ATS) at the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN at 8:05 ET in a game available on FOX Sports - North.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Miami as a road favorite for this contest with the current line at -4½ with odds of -103.
Alternating Wins and Losses
The Heat have alternated wins and losses through the first four games, which is actually a pattern they would like see continued here as they are coming off of a 98-92 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday as four-point favorites. Miami did score 52 points in the paint though thanks mainly to the heroics of Hassan Whiteside, and the Heat can now take advantage of a Minnesota team that is without its center Nikola Pekovic.
The Timberwolves meanwhile got off to a nice start with two road wins to begin the year, but unfortunately they were then the losing NBA picks here in their home opener on Monday to the Portland Trail Blazers 106-101 on an emotional night after honoring former coach and president of basketball operation Flip Saunders before the game. You may recall that Saunders passes away from Hodgkin lymphoma on the eve of the regular season opener.
While Miami is obviously the much more experienced of these two teams with the likes of Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic and Luol Deng all still playing at a high level while all are averaging double-digits, the irony is that probably the most important member of the Heat right now is the youngest member of the starting five in the center Whiteside, who has totaled 48 points and 29 rebounds the last two games while shooting 23-of-27 from the field!
You may recall that Whiteside went from virtual obscurity to one of the most valuable players in the league over the second half of last year, introducing himself to the world with a nationally televised triple-double that included 12 blocked shots and not slowing down much after that. Whiteside would be a matchup nightmare even under the best of circumstances, but he may be unguardable here while being defended by top overall draft-pick Karl-Anthony Towns.
Wiggins Cannot Find His Stroke
The Timberwolves have a nice nucleus to build around in Towns and last year’s top overall pick Alan Wiggins, and Towns has acquitted himself well while forced to be the starting center right from the outset due to Pekovic having an Achilles injury, as the youngster posted double-doubles in his first two NBA games before being held to 11 points and five rebounds vs. Portland.
Still, while Minnesota could be a dangerous team later in the year as those last two number one picks develop, we do not think that the Timberwolves are quite there yet as it is not as if they beat anything special in their two road wins over the Lakers and Nuggets, and Wiggins has been struggling with his shot shooting a measly 30.0 percent from the field so far (12-for-40) while not yet making a three-point shot on six attempts.
And the rest of the starting five vs. Portland on Monday will not exactly instill fear in opposing defenses as the Wolves started an offensive liability in Ricky Rubio at point guard and a couple of washed up veterans at the forward spots in Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince.
Heat Don’t Mind the Cold
Finally, the Heat have not minded leaving South Beach to visit the much colder climate of Minnesota all that much as they are 6-1 ATS in their last seven visits to Minneapolis, and Miami is 5-1 ATS in the last six head-to-head meetings overall after covering both meetings last season.
Expect that head-to-head dominance to continue for Miami in Minnesota here, so give the points when the Heat invade the Target Center on Thursday.
NBA Pick: Heat -4½ (-103)