3-on-3 debate: Heat-T'Wolves takeaways

December, 31, 2011
12/31/11
12:12
AM ET
LeBron James
David Sherman/Getty Images
LeBron James was all smiles in Minnesota after beating the Timberwolves to move to 4-0.

It ain't pretty but the Heat are now 4-0 after squeaking past the Minnesota Timberwolves on a beautiful game-winning play to Dwyane Wade. With just six seconds remaining in a tie game, LeBron James threw an alley-oop to Wade from the sideline out-of-bounds and Wade laid it in off the glass past a converging trio of Wolves.


The Heat were careless with the ball at times, but they pulled out the victory in the closing seconds for the second game in a row. The Heat surrendered an early 13-point lead and played neck-and-neck with the youthful Timberwolves until the very last possession. There's plenty to discuss in the roller coaster win so let's get right to it.

In another installment of Heat Index's 3-on-3 series, our writers give their takes on the Heat's nail-biter in Minnesota.

1. What's the biggest takeaway from the Heat's win?


Tom Haberstroh: That Erik Spoelstra can draw up a brilliant X-and-O when he needs to. One of my biggest questions heading into the season was whether Spoelstra would still feel comfortable making a strict play call in the closing minutes when the Heat were thriving on improvisation. That's no longer a big concern as the Heat have now closed out three straight games that were in the balance in the final minutes.

Michael Wallace: These guys are already showing they can finish out close games. That's something the Heat struggled mightily with last season. LeBron James sets the tone, Chris Bosh provides the middle relief and Dwyane Wade closes the show for the second consecutive game. Apparently, old habits might not be too hard to break.

Brian Windhorst: The Heat's overall level of play suffered a drop off on road trip, especially first half defense. But they executed at both ends under pressure at the end, something that was a major problem last season. Regardless of opponent, that will be a confidence builder.




2. What's the biggest concern from the Heat's win?


Haberstroh: That the defense isn't sharp yet. The perimeter defense was especially lacking at times in Friday night's win. The Heat normally suffocate the opposition around the 3-point line but the Timberwolves regularly generated some wide-open looks. Against the Timberwolves, they can get away with it. Against contenders, though? Not so much.

Wallace: First-half defense and overall rebounding continue to be early concerns for Miami. Those were sore spots again against the Timberwolves. Eventually, those areas must be addressed. But part of it is that the Heat will face opponents' best shot and relentless energy almost every night. This team knows how to pace itself, but it'll drive Erik Spoelstra crazy along the way.

Windhorst: The Heat continued to have trouble handling a quick guard. The Wolves went to a spread offense and when the Heat had to help off penetration, Ricky Rubio repeatedly found open man. More teams will likely follow this mold.




3. What's the biggest question with this team going forward?


Haberstroh: Do they rest Dwyane Wade on Sunday? The Heat are set to play a rematch against the Charlotte Bobcats at home and then play the Atlanta Hawks on a back-to-back the following night. If Wade's foot is still sore, they could probably afford to give him the next two nights off and get him healthy for the tougher opponent on Monday. Worth considering.

Wallace: Will Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem eventually find their shooting strokes? Their defense, effort and energy are there. But rims and backboards across the league are screaming every time either of them puts up shots. Although it's still early, there has to be more consistent offensive production off the bench.

Windhorst: Miami is not taking care of the ball very well. Turnovers have been an epidemic in the league so far and the Heat are doing their fair share to help keep it up. It hasn't cost the Heat a game ... yet.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dwyane Wade
PTS AST STL MIN
21.6 5.5 1.1 32.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsC. Bosh 7.6
AssistsD. Wade 5.5
StealsM. Chalmers 1.6
BlocksH. Whiteside 2.0