The Minnesota Timberwolves and Miami Heat met in Miami Monday night and the Wolves left with a thrilling 125-122 victory, as they outscored the Heat 31-28 in the fourth to go to overtime, and then had a 15-12 edge in overtime.
1. Jeff Teague! Teague has played like a man on a mission the past two games. After his putrid performance against the Pacers last Tuesday, Teague followed up his 18 point game against the Pistons, with 17 points and 10 assists against the Oklahoma City Thunder, going 2-5 from three, then Monday night, Teague went for 23 points and 11 assists, with five rebounds and SIX steals in 37 minutes. He also shot 3-5 from three, as he has gone 7-13 from long-range over the past three games.
2. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins both scored 20+ as Wiggins scored 22 (on an inefficient 7-23 however) with seven rebounds and KAT went for 20 and 12 with three blocks, and was 3-4 from beyond the arc. These two consistently bring scoring punch to this team.
3. Defense. Wait, defense? Yes. The Wolves were able to play extremely well in two key areas on the defensive end. First, they limited the heat to 7-27 from three-point range, good for a putrid 25.9%, and then they forced turnovers. The Heat turned the ball over 24 times, leading to 27 points off turnovers for the Wolves. For the game, the Wolves had 16 steals, lead by Teague's six and Jimmy Butler's three.
1. Opponent Field Goal Percentage. The Wolves were good limiting made threes, but allowed the Heat to shoot for 52.7% from the field. This could largely be attributed t their 66 points in the paint.
2. Rebounding. Crashing the boards continues to be an area of concern for the Wolves. They have pulled out wins but in this game they were out rebounded 61-44. That 17 rebound differential is of major concern.
3. The final negative would be not putting the Heat away in the fourth. Jamal Crawford's three point jumper put the Wolves up 104-97 with 3:09 left. That's a seven point lead. In order to continue their ascension to a playoff caliber team, the Wolves, especially defensively, have to figure out how to put teams away. In the future, barring an out of body experience from an opposing player/team, the Wolves have to either maintain or build on that seven point lead in the final three minutes of play to avoid overtime, thus limiting wear and tear on the bodies of the team's starters.
The Wolves are off for Halloween as they travel to New Orleans to take on the Anthony Davis, Boogie Cousins and the Pelicans at 7:00 pm. at Smoothie King Center. The match-up with those two fearsome big men will be a major litmus test on weather or not the Wolves can rebound with the big dogs.