When Miami travels to Minnesota tonight, the Timberwolves are rare favorites at -2.5 on NBA odds with a total of 188.5. The Heat are No. 2 in the NBA in scoring defense and the Wolves are dead-last.
Wolves Might Get Competitive
For the first time since very early in the season, Minnesota has for the most part the full allotment of players it expected to have. By that I mean the team's three veteran starters all being healthy at once: point guard Ricky Rubio, shooting guard Kevin Martin and center Nikola Pekovic. All missed several weeks with injuries. Pekovic, who averages 12.4 points and 7.5 rebounds has been back since Jan. 21. He was lost on Nov. 15. Martin has been back for four games after being lost since Nov. 19.
Rubio, who can become a free agent this summer, hadn't played since Nov. 7 because of a badly sprained ankle but returned for Monday's 100-94 loss in Dallas, Minnesota's third straight defeat and eighth in the past nine games. The Spaniard had 10 points, four assists and three rebounds in 21 minutes. With those three veterans, Thaddeus Young and Rookie of the Year favorite Andrew Wiggins, the Wolves don't have a terrible starting five. Certainly better than the Wolves' 8-40 NBA-worst record. The team is still missing two rotation guys off the bench in rookie Zach LaVine and second-year player Shabazz Muhammad. LaVine (8.2 ppg), who will compete in the Slam Dunk Contest at the All-Star Game, has missed the past two games with a sprained ankle and might play against Miami. Muhammad (13.7 ppg) has missed 13 straight games but might return this weekend.
There's some talent on this team -- although Young and/or veteran reserve guard Mo Williams (who had a 52-point game last month) could be traded by the Feb. 19 deadline -- and if the Wolves can get a star-quality player in the 2015 draft, then the rebuild might not take that long. Wiggins certainly looks like a future star. He leads all NBA rookies in minutes per night (34.0) and scoring (15.5 ppg). The Cavaliers will regret that Kevin Love trade, mark my words. Minnesota is 20-27-1 against the NBA odds betting spread this season and 25-22-1 'over/under.'
Wade Out Again
Want to know a big reason why LeBron James left Miami for Cleveland? Because he didn't believe Dwayne Wade could stay healthy as his running mate. James has been proven wise. Wade has been in and out of the Heat lineup all season and is currently out with a hamstring injury. He missed his third straight game Tuesday and likely won't be back for at least another week. Wade has been very good when healthy, averaging 21.4 points and 5.4 assists.
The Heat lost 108-91 in Detroit on Tuesday despite 34 point from Chris Bosh. Miami had been 17-0 all time in regular-season games when Bosh scored at least 30. That game was basically over after the first quarter when Miami shot 5-for-22 and was outscored 33-12. Starting small forward Luol Deng returned after missing three games with a calf strain and had 10 points. Hassan Whiteside continued his amazing play out of nowhere with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Miami (21-27) currently holds the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Heat are 21-25-2 against the spread and 17-31 'over/under' on NBA odds.
Before placing your NBA pick on this match, remember that on Nov. 8 when Minnesota visited Miami the Heat were 8-point favorites on NBA odds (total of 205) and they won 102-92. Wade had 25 points and Bosh 24 and they combined to score the Heat's final 12 points of the game. The Wolves were down one point by 20 but closed to within 90-86 on a Martin 3-pointer with 4:28 left but would get no closer. The Wolves potentially had a chance to cover the spread but Martin missed a 3-pointer with eight seconds left. Pekovic led Minnesota with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Rubio missed the game; he suffered his sprained ankle the night before in Orlando. LaVine started in place of Rubio alongside fellow teenager Wiggins. That made the Wolves the first team since Nov. 4, 2005, to start a pair of teenagers. Minnesota also has lost six straight at home in this series, but that was having to deal with the LeBron-led Heat.
NBA Free Picks
This line actually opened at Miami -1 early Tuesday so apparently oddsmakers didn't like how the Heat played that night. Take the Wolves at -2.5 on NBA odds and go 'over' 188 at Pinnacle Sportsbook. The Wolves are 4-1 ATS in their past five after a loss. The 'over' has hit in seven of the Wolves' past 11 vs. the East.