Mar. 3, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) falls out of bounds against the New York Knicks during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Miami won 99-93. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Miami Heat (43-14) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (20-36)

Miami looks for its 15th straight win a night after dispatching the New York Knicks 99-93 in Madison Square Garden. LeBron James scared everyone after taking an awkward landing off a failed alley-oop pass that left him clutching his knee. Reports are that he’ll be evaluated today, but likely won’t miss his only chance to sell out Target Center and get his licks in, pummeling what’s left of the Wolves rotting corpse of a season.

Heat probable starting lineup:

PG Mario Chalmers

SG Dwyane Wade

SF LeBron James

PF Udonis Haslem

C Chris Bosh

Last in the league in total rebounds, as a team Miami makes up for interior presence with perimeter defense and 3-point prowess. They are 5th in the league in swipes, 7th in forced turnovers and 2nd overall in 3-point percentage.

Much has been made of LeBron’s developing post game, but his ability to go to the basket and draw-and-kick when opponents double and triple team him — and finish while opponents bounce off him when the help doesn’t make it in time, is what makes Miami special. LeBron’s ability to make plays for sharpshooters like Ray Allen and Shane Battier while taking contact and dishing out punishment is what made Miami a championship team last year and what makes him peerless.

Speaking of Battier, his 3-point shooting percentage in wins is 47%, while 27% in losses. Allen’s in wins is 47%, while 29% in losses. Chalmers shoots a 45/25% split, as well. So while it’s safe to say you can’t shut LeBron down, if you can weather the storm and stay home on the perimeter, you’ll have a better shot at avoiding a barrage of 3s.

Wolves probable starters:

PG Ricky Rubio

SG Luke Ridnour

SF Mickael Gelabale

PF Derrick Williams

C Greg Stiemsma

Not that the Heat have to worry about Minnesota’s perimeter or interior defense in this game. Whether Adelman elects to start Williams or Gelabale off on LeBron, the peripheral matchups don’t favor the Wolves, either.

Against Portland, Fox Sports commentator kept hammering the point that the Wolves needed to get something out of Alexey Shved and J.J. Barea in order to have any chance of pulling out a win in Portland. The Wolves haven’t received anything close to production from Shved, and the Wolves gamely plugged along getting points in the paint, but the mountain is too high for these Wolves to climb. There isn’t enough there right now. Without 3-point threats or interior presence, the Wolves need drives to the hoop and perfection from the line, and that’s not there, either.

Rubio had one of his eye-opening performances against Miami last year as the Wolves lost by 2 at Target Center. He’ll need more than that tonight.

Tags: Miami Heat Minnesota Timberwolves Pregame Preview

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