November 24, 2017, 11:11 pm
The Miami Heat are an extremely well-coached team that, despite some deficiencies, have their formula for victories and stick to it. They’re usually not the most talented team on the court, and their current crop of personnel may not exactly fit what they run, but they stick with their plan.
That plan was plainly obvious in this game in downtown Minneapolis. The Heat set up with a series of pick-and-roll’s until they’re about to get the right matchup, attack the basket and look to make the extra pass, whether it’s to a guy cutting to the rim, or an open player on the 3-point line.
It’s a fairly basic plan, but it requires pinpoint passes, quick decision makers and good perimeter shooting. On the season the Heat haven’t been the most effective 3-point shooting team and they have had some turnover issues. As stated, it’s not a perfect combination of players.
Everything was working in this game for the Heat, which was bad news for the Wolves. The Heat came in ranking 21st in 3-point percentage and 19th in turnovers per game at 35 percent and 16.5 per game, respectively.
Tonight the Heat shot 19-for-37 from beyond the arc for 51.4 percent and committed only 13 turnovers. The 19 threes were a season high allowed by the Wolves. Former Wolf Wayne Ellington led the Heat with 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting, all from beyond the arc. He also went 3-of-3 at the line…. after he was fouled shooting a 3-pointer.
The Heat just kept running their same pick-and-roll kick out every play. Ellington camped out in the corner and just kept shooting. There was rarely anyone within a few feet of him. The Wolves’ defense just never adjusted.
Goran Dragic scored 20 points with six assists, four rebounds, two steals and shot 5-of-8 on 3-pointers. He was getting into the lane easily and would likely have at least 12 “hockey assists”, which is the assist to the assist.
James Johnson led the team with seven assists, mostly from standing on the perimeter, catching the kick-out and making the extra pass to the 3-point shooter.
Hassan Whiteside scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and he was able to bully Towns with ease if they needed him to. They only needed him for eight shots though because of how wide-open the perimeter was.
On the other side of the ball, the Heat try to force teams into taking long twos by running them off the 3-point line and the Wolves happily obliged. Minnesota took only 16 3-pointers and shot a low 44 percent inside the arc. They were able to reach the line, though below their season average. Unfortunetly they weren’t able to capitalize, going 14-of-23.
It was a dreary effort from the Wolves as they played right into the Heat’s gameplan and seemingly never figured out what was hitting them. There are rumblings about Thibs and his performance, wondering if he’s the right man. It’s hard to blame anyone for thinking that at the moment. Every night it’s the same old mistakes at this point.
Towns was disappointing tonight. He was held scoreless on four shots by halftime, and scored only two points by the time the game was well out of hand in the fourth. He finished with 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting with six rebounds and three assists.
The odd part of it was the Heat had 6’7″ Justin Winslow guarding Towns as opposed to 7′ Hassan Whiteside. This was part of their gameplan and it completely worked. Winslow was able to front Towns on each possession and the Wolves eventually just stopped looking his way.
Wiggins and Butler scored 18 a piece. Wiggins had some really nice defensive stretches and was probably the best player on the floor tonight. Butler has seemed to find his offensive role lately, but he’s made some costly defensive gambles lately that have stood out.
Minnesota, falling to 11-6 on the season, take on the Suns this Sunday looking to bounce back and get some revenge for their bad loss in Phoenix two weeks ago.
One final thought. There’s been whispers about the Clippers taking calls on DeAndre Jordan. There’s also been talk about the Wolves getting a little tougher up front, having a true rim-protector next to Towns.
It’s tough to say how well Towns would defend at the “four”. It’s arguable the defense wouldn’t be any better with Towns at the four, whoever was at the five. For the sake of it though, Jordan for Jeff Teague, Justin Patton and Oklahoma City’s pick could make some sense.
Tyus Jones had a real solid game filling in for Teague. He scored only eight points, but grabbed six rebounds, dished out six assists and swiped four steals. He was active on defense, and managed a plus-7 in the box score. The only other positive player was Gibson.
Teague is a solid player, especially offensively, but he’s replaceable, even upgradable fairly easily. Jones isn’t an upgrade, but he’s at least equal if not better on defense and on a team that doesn’t lack for offensive talent, he doesn’t need to be a force on that end. As long as he makes his 3-pointers, he’s fine. He shot 2-of-3 tonight from the arc.
In this case, Minnesota would be jammed with bigs, so a counter move could be to swap Gorgui Dieng for DeMarre Caroll, which would balance out the roster a bit.
These two moves would be an “all-in” scenario for the Wolves, as they would be losing Patton and their picks the next two drafts. It’s debatable if it’s the right call. That’s an argument for another article. For the time being, just some food for thought.