Minnesota Timberwolves at Heat: Odds, injuries and what to watch for

The Minnesota Timberwolves bring a five-game losing streak to South Beach to take on Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat, who have lost six of their last eight.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have already suffered through separate losing streaks of 11 and 13 games. They head to Miami having lost five in a row dating back to prior to All-Star Weekend, and things don’t get any easier in a showdown with the Heat.

For their part, Miami has struggled lately, too, losing six of their last eight games. They’re only wins during that stretch were at the hapless Golden State Warriors and at home to the awful Cleveland Cavaliers, although they lost on the road to Cleveland earlier this week.

Former Wolves All-Star Jimmy Butler is listed as day-to-day after missing the past two games due to personal reasons. He didn’t play in the first matchup of the season between the two teams, back in October at Target Center. The Wolves won that game by seven, improving their record to 3-0 at that stage in a season that took a horrifying turn shortly thereafter.

The Wolves were held at arm’s length for most of Monday’s game in Dallas, which came only about 24 hours after a hard-fought loss at altitude to the Denver Nuggets.

Timberwolves odds against the Heat

Tickets, TV and streaming info for Timberwolves at Heat

What to watch for in Wolves at Heat

The Heat have some interesting offensive numbers that mirror the Wolves, believe it or not.

Minnesota third in the NBA in 3-point attempts per game. Miami is No. 11. The Wolves are No. 3 in free throw attempts per game, and the Heat are No. 4. Also, the Wolves are No. 26 in the number of 2-point field goals they attempt each night, while Miami is No. 28 in 2-point attempts per game.

In short, the Wolves and Heat are trying to score in the same way: 3-pointers and free throws with very little time to mess around with 2-point attempts. The difference, of course, comes in the efficiency.

Minnesota ranks No. 29, No. 21, and No. 20 in shooting percentage in the above-listed categories. Miami is No. 2, No. 14, and No. 8.

And therein lies the difference between a 36-21 squad that is fighting for homecourt advantage in the playoffs and a 16-40 team that is simply trying to find some cohesion and stay out of the cellar of the Western Conference.

There are plenty of differences between the two teams, of course: the Heat are superior defensively and significantly better rebounding the ball, especially on the defensive glass. Also, the Heat play at a much slower pace than the Wolves, controlling the flow of the game and dictating things on both ends of the floor.

This will be a challenge for a Karl-Anthony Towns-less Wolves squad, to say the least.

Injury Report

The Wolves are without Towns (wrist) and Allen Crabbe (personal). Jake Layman returned on Monday after a 41-game absence due to a toe injury and should be available on a minutes restriction on Wednesday.

The Heat have Butler listed as questionable for personal reasons. Impressive rookie Tyler Herro and big man Meyers Leonard are both out.

Next: The importance of playing the young Wolves

We’ll be back after the game with player grades. Enjoy Wednesday night basketball!