Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Miami Heat: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Miami
The Heat won despite being out-rebounded 51-22, as Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic dominated the glass.
The Wolves absolutely dominated in the paint, though, as 58 of their points were scored from close range. In the first quarter, Kevin Love hauled in nine rebounds, which is the most rebounds the Heat have allowed to a single player in a quarter this season.
The Heat overcame their shortcomings on the glass by pressuring the Wolves into turnovers, forcing 19 turnovers in all. Those turnovers led to numerous fast breaks and the Heat scored 24 points in transition.
Miami is now 7-1 when they dish out 25 or more assists, as LeBron James led the team with 11.
With the victory, the Heat remain a game behind the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference standings.
Mario Chalmers: B
Overall Game Grade: B
Mario Chalmers did his job in the first half, as he connected on two of his three attempts from behind the arc.
Ricky Rubio was held out due to precautionary reasons, but that doesn't mean the Minnesota Timberwolves started a slouch at point guard, as Luke Ridnour could start for a handful of teams.
Chalmers has become adept at doing exactly what is asked of him, but his progression has slowed to a halt this season. Erik Spoelstra played Norris Cole down the stretch in the fourth quarter, as Chalmers is no longer the point guard during crunch time.
The starting point guard role has become more of a timeshare as the season has progressed. Chalmers has seen his playing time slashed by two minutes per game in December, which is a significant portion of time considering he was averaging just 23 minutes per game.
Stats: 23 minutes, 12 points, 3 steals, 4-of-6 from behind the arc
Dwyane Wade: A
Overall Game Grade: A
The Dwyane Wade that we saw Tuesday night certainly seemed plenty explosive and athletic, as one has to wonder how much he wants to prove Charles Barkely wrong for saying that Wade isn't the same player he once was.
Alexey Shved is still breaking his teeth in the NBA and the Minnesota Timberwolves simply didn't have the personnel to stop Wade.
Wade played aggressively from the opening tip and refused to settle for mid-range jump shots. Instead, he drove fearlessly to the rim and did not avoid contact once he got there.
Once the Heat took control of the game in the fourth quarter, Erik Spoelstra decided to send Wade to the bench, as preserving him for the remainder of the season is far more important than padding the stats.
Stats : 27 minutes, 24 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 8-of-14 shooting
LeBron James: A
Overall Game Grade: A
LeBron James facilitated the Miami Heat offense perfectly, and the three-time league MVP had eight assists by the end of the third quarter.
While James did settle for too many mid-range jump shots, James dominated on both ends of the court, fueling Miam's fast-break offense with numerous brilliant passes to open teammates.
It's remarkable how durable James is, as he played ten more minutes in this game than any other Heat player.
LeBron scored over 20 points for the 22nd straight game, and James impacted the game in a multitude of ways, also producing four blocked shots and 11 assists.
Stats: 41 minutes, 22 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks, 8-of-18 shooting
Udonis Haslem: C
Overall Game Grade: C
The high water mark of Udonis Haslem's night came in the game's opening seconds when he dished a beautiful assist to LeBron James, who scored the first points of the game via a slam dunk.
Outside of that, Haslem struggled mightily and was not able to handle Kevin Love or Nikola Pekovic inside.
The Heat need Haslem to contribute in two areas: interior defense and rebounding. While he can provide those things against subpar frontcourts, he was outmuscled by the Wolves' talented frontline and failed to grab a single board the entire night.
Haslem did not contribute anything to the scorecard, but he did jostle with the Wolves bigs in the paint all night. That's what the Heat needed him to do in order to win the game, so Haslem gets a passing grade.
Stats: 22 minutes, 0 points, 0 rebounds, 1 assist
Chris Bosh: B-
Overall Game Grade: B-
Chris Bosh struggled to guard Nikola Pekovic inside, but that is to be expected, considering Bosh is giving up 55 pounds in that matchup.
This game provided another example that Bosh's quickness and versatility is too much for opposing centers on the offensive end of the court. But that same quickness is not enough to make up for his lack of strength inside, as Pekovic and Kevin Love had their way inside against Bosh inside.
Watching Bosh play alongside LeBron James is always a spectacle, and that was no different Tuesday night. James set Bosh up for numerous baskets, with a couple of those coming via spectacular passes that caused the crowd to jump out of their seats.
Bosh struggled mightily on the boards, as evidenced by his two rebounds, and the Wolves out-rebounded the Heat 52-24, as the Heat almost tied their franchise-low in the category.
Stats: 30 minutes, 15 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 6-of-10 shooting
Ray Allen: C
Overall Game Grade: C
Ray Allen did not see much playing time in the first half, as he only played seven minutes. Allen was a casualty of the Minnesota Timberwolves playstyle, as the Heat were forced to play more big men against their opponent's talented frontcourt.
Allen only played 10 minutes over the game's first three quarters, but he played the majority of the final frame and helped extend the lead.
Allen did what he does best, as he stretched the floor and knocked down a big three-pointer late in the fourth quarter to put the game on ice.
Still, this was not one of Allen's better shooting performances, which is indicative from his grade.
Stats: 19 minutes, 8 points, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 rebounds, 2-of-7 shooting
The Bench: B+
Overall Game Grade: B
Shane Battier and Norris Cole each played 24 minutes, while Mike Miller was the low man with only seven minutes logged off the bench.
Joel Anthony got solid minutes in the fourth and finished the game with 16 minutes, which is his second highest total of the season.
When Miami comes up against frontcourt-heavy teams in the postseason, they will have to call Anthony's number more often. Until that happens, though, he will continue to spend the majority of his time on the bench due to his lackluster offensive repertoire.
And Erik Spoelstra has been giving Cole more playing time in the fourth quarter, as he feels that Cole offers more than Mario Chalmers does down the stretch.
Stats: 30 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 blocks, 5 steals