Timberwolves Look To End Three-Game Slide Against Heat

Alexander Shun | @alexpshun

Digital Content Manager | KFAN.com

It was a little over one week ago when things were really looking up for the Minnesota Timberwolves. They had won eight of 11, had just beaten the Orlando Magic in a close overtime game and were then nearing that eighth spot in the Western Conference. Since then, the wheels have fallen off.

They followed up the win over Orlando with a blowout loss to the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers, then watched as a series of mistakes, turnovers and poor defense lost them a winnable game against the Detroit Pistons, and then followed that up with a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday night during which they led 31-15 after the first quarter only to have that lead disappear into a halftime tie and an eventual 107-99 Grizzlies win.

Put simply, things have not been going well for the Timberwolves.

Saturday night kicked off a stretch of six-straight home games for Minnesota before the All-Star break during which the 'Wolves could play their way back into the playoff conversation, and that starts Monday night against the Miami Heat.

The Heat enter Monday night's game, well, on fire (yes, pun intended). The team has won 10-straight games and that includes wins over two of the top teams in the Western Conference in the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors.

"You look at their team and they got off to a tough start but they kept working at it and they're playing great basketball," 'Wolves head coach Tom Thibodeau said of Miami's current winning streak Monday morning after the team's shootaround. "I think you can point towards their defense, their unselfishness, their intensity. They're passing the ball, they're getting rhythm threes and they're playing for each other."

The Timberwolves will look to put an end to the Heat's winning streak by playing solid team defense, taking care of the ball and not committing careless fouls as they have in game's past.

Karl-Anthony Towns has played very well all season long and will look to continue such success against Miami big-man Hassan Whiteside.

Whiteside is currently averaging 16.9 points, 14.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game, making him one of the tougher big men to play against. Towns believes that despite the stellar play of Whiteside, the Timberwolves can still get a win and end Miami's winning streak.

"We're just going in with a great mentality and great discipline," Towns said Monday. "We have a great game-plan and one of the best coaching staffs in the entire league so, again, we have everything in place we need to get a W tonight."

The Timberwolves will be without guard Zach Lavine who tore his ACL last Friday night in a 116-108 loss to the Pistons.

It will be tough to account for Lavine's 18.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, but guards such as Tyus Jone and Kris Dunn - assumedly the ones who will be seeing the bulk of additional minutes - will be up to the task. That is, once Dunn himself recovers from a hand injury that he is currently battling.

Thibodeau said after shootaround that Dunn did participate and that the guard's hand was improving but he didn't sound too positive regarding the first-round pick's status against Miami.

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