NBA Basketball

Final-OT 1 2 3 4 OT Tot
Minnesota 23 37 19 31 15 125
Miami 32 30 20 28 12 122
4:30 PM PT5:30 PM MT6:30 PM CT7:30 PM ET23:30 GMT7:30 4:30 PM MST6:30 PM EST3:30 UAE (+1)00:3019:30 ET5:30 PM CTNaN:� , October 30, 2017
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, Florida  Attendance: 19,600

Towns, Timberwolves provide tough task for Heat

According to STATS
According to STATS

Minnesota Timberwolves at Miami Heat

  1. The Timberwolves beat the Thunder on Friday, 119-116, despite allowing the Thunder to shoot exactly 50.0 percent from the field. Minnesota has allowed its opponents to shoot 50.0 percent or better in three consecutive games and is allowing opponents to shoot an NBA-high 51.7 percent on the season.
  2. The Heat scored under 100 points for the first time this season in their 96-90 loss to Boston on Saturday to fall to 2-3. Miami has a losing record through five games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2002-03 and 2003-04.
  3. After splitting six games against one another from 2013-14 through 2015-16, the Heat won both contests against the Timberwolves last season, averaging 119.0 points per game while shooting 55.6 percent from the field.
  4. Karl-Anthony Towns is the only player in the NBA this season to shoot at least 50.0 percent from the field on at least 10 field-goal attempts. The last players to do so in seven consecutive games to start a season were LeBron James and Blake Griffin, who both did so in 2011-12.
  5. Jimmy Butler had his 19th game since the start of last season with at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists, and his seventh since March 1. Only four players have more such games since the start of March.
  6. Goran Dragic is one of five Eastern Conference players averaging at least 20.0 points per game while shooting at least 50.0 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from three-point range this season (minimum 75 FGA and 15 3PA).

MIAMI -- After the Heat took consecutive losses to the San Antonio Spurs and the Boston Celtics, the Miami players met on Sunday to assess their 2-3 start.

A lack of physical play and effort were among issues raised by the players, according to a report in The Miami Herald.

"A lot of people took heat," Miami co-captain James Johnson said, presumably no pun intended. "(The team meeting) was the most important thing we could do -- staring guys in the eyes, telling them the truth. That's what this culture is about."

On Monday night, the Heat will play host to the Minnesota Timberwolves (3-3), who are led by Karl-Anthony Towns, a 21-year-old rising star.

Towns, a 7-foot center who is in his third year in the league, is durable -- he has yet to miss an NBA game. And he is no doubt talented.

He is averaging 24.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks this season. Miami may struggle to defend him without 7-foot center Hassan Whiteside, who has a knee injury and is set to miss his sixth straight game on Monday. Whiteside led the NBA in blocked shots in 2015-16, then led the league in rebounds in 2016-17.

Towns had 33 points, 19 rebounds and four blocks in a 119-116 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.

"He was terrific," Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "The activity, the shot-blocking -- he really played hard. He made a lot of great plays for the team."

If Whiteside is out, the Heat will look toward Kelly Olynyk and possibly rookie Bam Adebayo to defend Towns. Johnson, who is 6-9 and 250 pounds, could check Towns when the Heat go small.

And while the Heat brought back virtually their entire roster from last season's near-playoff team that finished 30-11 in its final 41 games, Minnesota made a major draft-night trade, acquiring 28-year-old veteran Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls.

Butler gives the Timberwolves an impressive trio of options on the wings, a group that also includes Andrew Wiggins and Jamal Crawford.

Wiggins, Minnesota's second-leading scorer, is a 6-8 shooting guard who is averaging 19.3 points. The first overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Wiggins is only 22 and has a universe of potential.

Crawford is on the other end of the spectrum. He is 37 and just the second NBA player in the past 35 years to accumulate more than 10,000 points off the bench.

Butler fits in well because he is the type of all-out defender that Thibodeau loves, and new Wolves point guard Jeff Teague is working toward that goal.

Teague, who signed a three-year, $57 million free-agent contract with Minnesota in the offseason, is averaging 12.8 points and a team-high 7.0 assists. However, he could have trouble on Monday with Heat guard Goran Dragic, who is averaging 20.2 points and 4.0 assists.

The other key Wolves player to watch on Monday is Taj Gibson, a 6-9 power forward who -- like Butler -- played for "Coach Thibs" in Chicago.

Minnesota hasn't made the playoffs since 2004, but perhaps this is the core group to take the team there.

Miami, meanwhile, is trying to avoid another slow start. The Heat began last season in brutal fashion (11-30), and they don't want a repeat.

The Heat are deeper than Minnesota, and Monday could be a test of styles.

Miami ranks 12th in the NBA with 10.4 3-pointers per game, and Minnesota makes just 8.5 3-pointers, which ranks 24th in the league. And in terms of attempts, the difference in style is even more stark: Miami is eighth, and Minnesota is 28th.

Updated October 29, 2017

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