The Miami Heat have won 15 straight regular-season games against Western Conference teams, a streak they'll try to extend Saturday at Minnesota. Both teams have questions about whether they'll have their star players, as Miami's Dwyane Wade (illness) has missed the past two games and Minnesota is unsure about Kevin Love's status following his grandmother's death. The Heat are trying to avoid their first three-game skid since January 2012.
Miami, which has won six straight meetings with the Timberwolves, had its 10-game winning streak snapped by Detroit on Tuesday and couldn't right the ship at Chicago on Thursday, getting outrebounded 49-27 by the Bulls. "We can't just brush this loss aside," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters. "We have to really own it, to understand what happened. They just got whatever they wanted, right in the paint and at the rim, and if they missed those, then they were just beating us up at the glass." Minnesota hasn't played since Sunday, as its game against San Antonio in Mexico City was postponed because the arena was filled with smoke from a fire caused by a malfunctioning generator.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Sun Sports (Miami), FSN North (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE HEAT (14-5): Miami's strengths are well-known, beginning with LeBron James (25.7 points, 6.1 assists, 5.7 rebounds) and Wade (18.5 points, 5.4 assists), when healthy. Chris Bosh (14.3) and Michael Beasley (11.4) also average double-digit scoring, and Mario Chalmers (8.7 points, 4.9 assists, 1.6 steals) continues to effectively run the point. The Heat can often mask their weaknesses with superior talent, but they haven't been able to hide the deficiency in the post the past two contests.
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (9-10): Minnesota has dropped four of its last five, and Love's status likely will play a huge role in whether the Timberwolves turn it around against the Heat. Love (23.7 points, 13.6 rebounds) is the league's leading rebounder, and he and center Nikola Pekovic (15.5 points, 8.7 rebounds) could give Miami fits in the paint. Kevin Martin (23.2 points) is settling in with his new team and has averaged 26.7 points over the past three games.
1. James has scored in double figures in 514 consecutive games, the fifth-longest streak in NBA history.
2. The Timberwolves haven't beaten Miami in Minnesota since Jan. 8, 2008.
3. Miami is 13-0 when holding opponents under 100 points.
PREDICTION: Heat 102, Timberwolves 98