Heat vs Timberwolves NBA Handicapping
Miami’s incredible late-season run is an obvious message to the rest of the Eastern Conference that there is not much that can be done to prevent the Heat from heading to the NBA Finals again.
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Miami Heat (43-14) at Minnesota Timberwolves (20-36)
Monday, March 4
Target Center, Minneapolis
8 p.m. EST
Odds: Miami -9.5 | Over/Under: 196
But it’s also bad news for the Western Conference triumvirate of San Antonio, Oklahoma City and the Clippers. While the Western Conference teams have no intention of rolling over come playoff time, it’s obvious that their run to a Finals spot will be much more arduous than the one Miami will face.
The Heat have 14 straight victories as they take the court tonight in Minnesota against the Timberwolves.
No. 15 is as close to a lock as you can get in the NBA, except perhaps Miami’s next game (Wednesday at home against Orlando). In fact, 60 percent of Miami’s remaining 25 games (15) will come against teams with losing records.
And with a 6½-game over the next-best team in the East (Indiana), the Heat will have plenty of opportunity to keep its big guns fresh for the playoffs and a probable first-round matchup against the Bucks.
San Antonio is three up in the West, but with Tony Parker (ankle) out of play until at least early April, both Oklahoma City and the Clippers no doubt feel they have at least a puncher’s chance of stealing away the top seed. With playoff position jockeying in the West figuring to go into mid-April, rest will be at a premium.
And unless there are a couple of playoff upsets along the way, the Western finals looks like a knock-down, drag-out battle that will take a lot out of the survivor before it can even think about the Heat.
In the meantime, the Heat continue to blow-torch whoever happens to stand in their way.
The win over the Knicks yesterday showed that there is a clear gap between the Heat and any other team in the East. Down 14 at the half, they sliced and diced Melo & the Boys in the third (28-18) and fourth (26-16) periods, getting both SU and ATS victories.
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Bad enough that the Timberwolves will have to go tonight without their best player (Kevin Love, out for several more weeks with a broken hand).
Now it’s possible the rest of the starting front line (Nikola Pekovic, abdomen) and Andrei Kirilenko (calf) are both game-time decisions. It they can’t go, any edge the Wolves might have had in stealing one will be out the door and into the late-winter Minneapolis cold.
Unless there’s a major Miami meltdown or Erik Spolestra sends LeBron James and Dwyane Wade back to Miami for R&R, the Heat will set a franchise records for consecutive wins.
MIAMI 99, MINNESOTA 85.