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Timberwolves-Heat pairs two of NBA’s hottest teams

Sportsnaut
Mar 11, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards (1) moves the ball against Orlando Magic forward Chuma Okeke (3) during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 11, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards (1) moves the ball against Orlando Magic forward Chuma Okeke (3) during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves, who had their longest win streak since 2003-2004 snapped on Friday, are set to visit the surging Miami Heat on Saturday night.

Minnesota, which had been the hottest team in the Western Conference with six straight wins, lost to the host Orlando Magic, 118-110, on Friday.

Miami also played on Friday, defeating the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers, 117-105. The Heat have the best record in the Eastern Conference.

The Timberwolves have been getting healthier this week. Star starting shooting guard Anthony Edwards returned on Wednesday after missing four games due to a knee injury. He scored a game-high 25 points on Friday.

In addition, two more starters — point guard Patrick Beverley and forward Jarred Vanderbilt — returned on Friday after one-game absences. Beverley, a defensive menace, had an ankle injury. Vanderbilt had a quad injury.

However, backup Wolves point guard Jordan McLaughlin missed Friday’s game due to a groin injury.

Minnesota is led by 6-11, 250-pound center Karl-Anthony Towns. He tops the Wolves in points (24.5) and rebounds (9.7). He had 21 points and 13 rebounds on Friday.

Another Wolves player to watch is Malik Beasley, who set a franchise single-game record with 11 3-pointers in Wednesday’s 132-102 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Beasley, a former Florida State star, also broke Kevin Love’s previous record of 190 3-pointers in a season.

“We have a great team,” Beasley said. “We have teammates who care about each other.”

Edwards, the NBA’s No. 1 pick in 2020, is second on the team in scoring (21.3). Edwards, 20, teams with Towns and guard D’Angelo Russell as Minnesota’s top three scoring options. Russell is averaging 19.0 points and a team-high 7.1 assists.

Towns is especially dangerous because he is shooting 58.2 percent on 2-pointers and a team-high 40.4 percent on 3-pointers.

Miami, meanwhile, got good news in Friday’s win as Jimmy Butler returned from a one-game sinus-issue absence. He had a big impact with 24 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals against the Cavaliers. His 11 points in the key third quarter proved to be the difference in the game.

Miami also got a monster performance from Bam Adebayo, who had 30 points and 17 rebounds — both game highs.

“Playing together, swinging the ball — that’s our best offense,” Adebayo said.

Prior to the game, Caleb Martin — an explosive wing and a key member of Miami’s bench — worked out, attempting to return from a knee injury.

“It was encouraging,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We will treat it as day-to-day.

“But considering how awkward the injury looked, this is great news.”

Miami hasn’t lost consecutive games in nearly two months. Since Feb. 3, the Heat have gone 13-3.

“We hate losing,” Heat guard Max Strus said when asked for his team’s secret.

Spoelstra said that Heat guard Victor Oladipo — a two-time All-Star who has battled back from three years of injuries — will be rested on Saturday before playing again on Tuesday against the Detroit Pistons.

“I love where Vic is,” Spoelstra said. “But I’m looking at it much differently than everybody else. Everybody is asking: ‘What’s next? How’s it going to fit? How are we going to fast-track this?’

“The biggest win is Vic getting back out there. He’s healthy.”

–Field Level Media