The Miami Heat just ended the NBA’s longest winning streak, and their reward is a four-game road trip. The Heat, who knocked off the NBA-best Boston Celtics at home on Friday, will begin their trek by visiting the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra put his team through a pair of tough practices leading into the matchup with the Celtics after getting blown out 120-95 at home by Indiana on Sunday, and the strategy seemed to pay off. “I don’t even care about the result,” Spoelstra told reporters after Wednesday’s 104-98 triumph. “Right now, it’s all behavior and habits. So, the test will be what we do for the next 48 hours. Guys really brought a purity to the work, a focus, a discipline the last two days, and we got after it. It was training-camp level practices, but you’re not always able to do that during the course of the season, and snap into attention. So, all those little things, that’s what I want to see.” The Timberwolves snapped out of their own funk with a 124-118 win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday after back-to-back losses but nearly squandered a 26-point lead in the fourth quarter. “We have to work at it,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters of fourth-quarter woes. “You have to be tough-minded.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), FSN North (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE HEAT (8-9): Miami point guard Goran Dragic totaled 14 points on 6-of-19 shooting in two games before breaking out for 27 points in the win over the Celtics. The 31-year-old did not attempt a free throw in the previous three games but got back to attacking the basket against Boston and went 9-of-10 from the line. “Goran’s a winner. What we’re trying to learn is winning habits. That’s all we’ve been talking about, is we want to be more consistent on the court. You have to learn how to win, learn how to develop winning habits. ... I can go on and on and on, and you can just put a picture of Goran Dragic and that’s why he is one of the most consistent guys not around this team but in the league.”
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (11-7): Minnesota enjoyed a string of six of eight games holding opponents under 100 points — winning all six — but let up a bit on the defensive end over the last three contests and dropped two before pulling out Wednesday’s 124-118 win. “My concern is what we’re doing defensively,” Thibodeau told reporters. “If we’re going to go anywhere, we have to correct that.” The Timberwolves make up for some of those defensive issues on the other end of the floor and watched Jimmy Butler match a season high on Wednesday with 26 points while Taj Gibson (24), Jeff Teague (22) and Andrew Wiggins (20) all reached the 20-point plateau as well.
1. Heat SG Dion Waiters scored 26 points on Wednesday after going scoreless on 0-of-10 shooting in Sunday’s loss.
2. Butler is averaging 21.8 points over the last four games.
3. Minnesota earned a 125-122 overtime win at Miami on Oct. 30 behind 23 points and 11 assists from Teague.
PREDICTION: Timberwolves 113, Heat 109