Setting the stage:
The hottest team in the league just so happens to be the best team in the league and the defending NBA champions; and they happen to be on their way to Minneapolis to take on our reeling Wolves. Monday’s game will be broadcast on NBA TV for the masses to see, as the Heat come into the game with a 14 game winning streak. The Wolves are the complete antithesis of the Heat right now, having lost 5 in a row and 21 of 25.
The Heat are putting distance between themselves and the rest of the Eastern Conference, building a 7+ game advantage over the rest of the conference over the past few weeks. They look like the clear favorites to reach (and win) the NBA Finals. LeBron is playing in another stratosphere this season and has shown no signs of slowing down.
The Heat took down the Wolves 103-92 in Miami on 12/18 and the game never felt as close as the final score would indicate. The Wolves were nearly at full strength in that encounter and as you are likely well aware, that isn’t the case right now. It is still to be determined whether or not Kirilenko will be ready to go Monday night, but the remaining Pups that missed Saturday’s game in Portland will all likely miss Monday’s game as well.
Derrick Williams has been one of the few bright spots over the past few weeks for the Timberwolves. He will be asked to do a little bit of everything and much more in order for the Wolves to even remain competitive against the Heat. It will also be interesting to see who he matches up with on the defensive end of the floor given the current starting lineup for the Heat.
Player to watch:
LeBron James – I don’t think we need to go very much further than just mentioning his name at this point, do we? He’s only averaging 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists this season, so sit back and enjoy the greatest professional basketball player on the planet Monday night. If AK47 isn’t ready to go, and even if he is, you might see a very special performance in the first three quarters of play.
Match-up to watch:
Luke Ridnour vs. Dwyane Wade. I’m getting tired of picking Rubio and Pekovic for this section and who knows who else will be suiting up for the Wolves by the time tip-off comes. Luke has been shooting the ball better as of late, but has the unenviable task of matching up against Wade on Monday night. This could get ugly fast.
Even with the Heat playing Sunday against the Knicks and the Wolves having an off day, Minnesota is probably going to be about +1100 in Vegas. This is likely to be a long night for Wolves fans. My advice: try to enjoy watching the Heat.
Final score prediction: Twolves 84, Heat 98
Three stars of the game predictions:
- LeBron James
- Dwyane Wade
- Ricky Rubio
Let’s go Wolves!