Heat happy to return home, host hapless Timberwolves

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Home is where the wins are for the Miami Heat.

The Heat, coming off an embarrassing road loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, will return home on Wednesday to face the Minnesota Timberwolves.

At home, the Heat’s 23-3 record is one of the three best in the NBA.

On the road, Miami is just 13-18. The Heat have lost six of their past seven road games, including three in a row.

“It’s not shocking,” Heat center Bam Adebayo said of the loss at Cleveland. “We’re bad on the road.”

That won’t be an issue Wednesday.

Minnesota has lost 18 of its past 19 games overall, including five in a row.

One of Minnesota’s top priorities will be controlling Adebayo, who nearly had a triple-double on Monday with 22 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. He also blocked four shots and had three steals.

Miami is hoping that five-time All-Star Jimmy Butler returns to the lineup after missing two games due to personal reasons.

Butler, who leads Miami in scoring (20.6), assists (6.2) and steals (1.8), is the Heat’s best overall player. He is essential to Heat winning because he makes more than twice as many free throws per game (7.6) as Miami’s next-best player in that category (Adebayo).

Those easy points for Butler — who makes 83.6 percent of his foul shots — are needed for Miami to close out games, which was a problem at Cleveland on Monday. The Heat blew a 22-point lead in the second half against the Cavaliers.

There is a chance Butler returns against Minnesota. He is listed as questionable.

However, Heat players Tyler Herro and center Meyers Leonard — who each have missed eight straight games due to ankle injuries — are not ready to return just yet. Leonard is second on the Heat in 3-point percentage (42.9) and Herro is fourth (39.3). Together, they are averaging 19.2 points.

With those players out, the Heat have been relying on Adebayo but also rookie guard Kendrick Nunn (15.6 scoring average) and reserve guard Goran Dragic (16.3 points, 5.0 assists).

Minnesota will be handicapped because star center Karl-Anthony Towns is out due to a wrist injury. Towns leads Minnesota in scoring (26.5), rebounds (10.8) and blocks (1.2).

Without Towns, recently acquired Timberwolves point guard D’Angelo Russell will have even more of a burden on his shoulders. He scored a game-high 29 points in Monday’s 139-123 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

The Timberwolves also have two former Heat forwards on their roster: Michael Beasley, who had 21 points against Dallas; and James Johnson, who added 19. They combined to make 14 of 29 shots from the floor, including 6 of 15 on 3-pointers.

Minnesota sent away seven players and brought in eight new ones just prior to the Feb. 6 trade deadline. Among the players getting an opportunity with the Timberwolves is 5-foot-11 reserve point guard Jordan McLaughlin, an undrafted rookie from Southern Cal.

McLaughlin had career highs in points (24) and assists (11) in Minnesota’s most recent win, a 142-115 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 8.

“This league is full of opportunities,” McLaughlin said. “When you get that opportunity, you have to seize the moment, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

–Field Level Media

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