MIAMI HEAT (43-14)
at MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (20-36)
Tip-off: Monday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Miami -9.5, Total: 196.5
The Heat will be seeking their 15th straight victory when they take the court in Minnesota to play the slumping Timberwolves on Monday night.
The Heat extended their winning streak to 14 games with a 99-93 road victory over the Knicks on Sunday. New York was one of two teams in the league that hadnít suffered a loss to Miami before Sunday. The Timberwolves are 3-16 in their past 19 contests, including five straight losses. They will most likely be without starting C Nikola Pekovic (15.9 PPG, 8.8 RPG) in Mondayís game due to an abdominal injury. In addition to their current hot streak, the Heat have also enjoyed great success over the Timberwolves in recent years, going 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. In the first matchup this season, Miami came out on top 103-92, shooting 47% FG and 52% threes (13-of-25). The Timberwolves stayed close with their two big men, Pekovic and PF Kevin Love, and outrebounded the Heat 53-24 in that defeat, and could really miss that inside presence on Monday night.
Can the Nuggets cover the hefty spread against a quality opponent? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Scott has gone 30-13 ATS (70%) on NBA Best Bets since Feb. 3, which has improved his season record to an impressive 58% ATS (100-74-1). StatFox Gary is also red-hot, going 4-0 ATS since Thursday and 12-3 ATS (80%) since Feb. 20. Since February began, the experts are a collective 58% ATS (101-74). StatFox Brian is 4-2 ATS in his past four days and 55% ATS (12-10) since the All-Star break. For NBA Totals, Scott is catching fire with an 8-2-1 (80%) mark in the past 10 days to raise his season mark to 57.1% (84-63-1) in Totals.
The Heat have won 14 games in a row and now have a few easier games on their schedule before playing the Pacers on March 10. They trailed New York by double-digits in the third quarter before erasing the lead and taking control midway through the fourth. SF LeBron James had a phenomenal game for Miami with 29 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. SG Dwyane Wade chipped in 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Heat. Wade had 24 points in the earlier meeting with Minnesota this season, while James dished out 11 assists. But it was more than just the dynamic duo that led the team to the win at Madison Square Garden. SF Shane Battier was perfect off the bench, going 4-for-4 in the game with all of those shots being from three-point range. PF Chris Bosh is going to have to be more aggressive for Miami in the next few weeks. Bosh had only one rebound against New York and is averaging a paltry 4.2 RPG over his past five games.
The Timberwolves have lost five straight games, but will now get to play in front of their home crowd for the first time in three contests. On Saturday, they lost to Portland by a total of 15 points. The Blazers led the Wolves from the start and Minnesota got little production from its rotation players. One player who showed up in that game was PF Derrick Williams, who finished with 23 points and eight rebounds, and is now averaging 18.2 PPG and 9.0 RPG over the past five contests. Pekovic got hurt after just nine minutes in Thursday's loss to the Lakers and missed Saturday's loss in Portland when the Blazers won the rebounding battle 55-47 and held the Wolves to 1-of-12 threes. A key to this game will be whether PG Ricky Rubio can run the offense effectively. He made just 3-of-10 shots at Rose Garden, but finished with a near-triple-double of 12 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. PF Dante Cunningham will have to take on more of the load inside with Pekovic's absence. Cunningham scored 16 points with eight rebounds in Saturday's defeat.