The Miami Heat will try to bounce back from a tough loss on short rest when they face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night in Minneapolis.
Miami is coming off a 119-111 road defeat against the Boston Celtics on Friday night. The Heat led 88-87 entering the fourth quarter but could not prevent the Celtics from pulling away late in the game.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the loss stung, particularly because of a late foul call that drew his ire. Yet he acknowledged his team has plenty to build upon as it travels west to tip off against the Timberwolves in Minnesota’s home opener.
Tyler Herro led the Heat on Friday with 28 points and Bam Adebayo finished with 27. Jimmy Butler added 14 points but shot only 3-for-11 from the field.
“We are going to follow Jimmy, Bam, Tyler — and everybody else has been put together on this roster to really complement them,” Spoelstra said. “Everybody brings great strengths that complement those guys.
“It wasn’t enough (Friday night), so that’s what we’re talking about. All of this has to lead to wins. But I love the competitive spirit.”
Minnesota will have plenty of reasons to showcase its own aggressive attitude on Saturday. The Timberwolves are coming off a 97-94 road loss against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, and now they will play in front of their home fans for the first time since being eliminated in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs by the eventual champion Denver Nuggets last spring.
The loudest fan ovation likely will go to Anthony Edwards, who asserted himself late last season and into the playoffs as the new face of the franchise. The then-21-year-old averaged a career-high 24.6 points per game in 2022-23 and earned his first All-Star nod.
In Minnesota’s opener against Toronto, Edwards scored 26 points and pulled down 14 rebounds, but he tallied only one assist and shot 8-for-27 from the floor.
Timberwolves coach Chris Finch sat down with Edwards after the game to remind him that he did not need to put the weight of every possession on his shoulders. Sometimes, making the simple pass is all it takes.
“He’s such a big-game hunter, and he just keeps going after those big moments,” Finch said. “He doesn’t realize that he’s making himself work so hard, harder than he has to. We talked about it. … He understands it. He’s self-aware about it. That’s a sign of maturity, too.
“He’s still young. He still has to figure out how to temper some of this stuff — when to control the game and take over the game. I told him he’s going to have an incredible season. He just can’t have it all in one game.”
The matchup between Edwards and Butler will draw plenty of attention, but both teams also have talented big men. Adebayo eclipsed 20 points per game for the first time last season, and Minnesota features the duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert.
The Timberwolves could remain without Jaden McDaniels, who missed the season opener because of a left calf strain. McDaniels is listed as doubtful for the Saturday contest.
The teams split their two meetings last season, with each side winning on its home court.